Rolex Sydney Hobart: Investec Loyal Crowned Line Honours Winner

Following a three hour hearing at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania before the International Jury,  the Race Committee’s protest against Investec Loyal was dismissed and Anthony Bell and the crew of his 100ft maxi were finally declared the line honours victors in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

This afternoon at the Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011 prizegiving, held in front of a crowd lining Constitution Dock, CYCA Commodore Garry Linacre, Lord Mayor of Hobart, Damon Thomas, and Patrick Boutellier of Rolex Australia presented Anthony Bell with the JH Illingworth Trophy and a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece for the line honours victory.

“It is the long way around in some ways,” said a delighted Anthony Bell. “It is very relieving to get to this point. There are rules in every sport and, while it wasn’t ideal to go through this, I think that ultimately it gets beyond any question and whatever those questions that were asked have been properly answered.”

As to their victory, when yesterday Investec Loyal beat Bob Oatley’s five time Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winning maxi Wild Oats XI to the Hobart finish line by a margin of just 3 minutes 8 seconds, Bell said: “We have come second to Wild Oats quite a lot. We came second last year to them and we kept coming second to them at Hamilton Island. It is an against-the-odds victory for us….I am still waiting for one of my crew members to wake me up and say you’re on watch!

“The buzz is made best by the fact that Wild Oats XI is such a fantastic, professionally-run campaign by the Oatley family and, to have them compete so fiercely, it accelerated and heightened the value to us to go down the wire against a raceboat team like that.  They are the benchmark of supermaxi racing, not just in Australia, but in the world.”

Bell explained that the query to the ABC helicopter pilot about Wild Oats XI’s sails had been made by their tactician Michael Coxon. Coxon is also Managing Director of North Sails Australia and, after the strong winds of the first night at sea, he had been concerned about Wild Oats XI’s mainsail, made of their new product 3Di and believed to be the most expensive sail of its type in the world.

“One of the things that they did take was that Michael Coxon’s question was not to gain any advantage for our boat at all, but more to test how his business client’s product, that they bought off him, was going,” said Bell of the international jury’s decision.

10 boats home
To date ten boats of the 77 still racing (out of 88 starters) have arrived in Hobart, the latest being Syd Fischer’s modified TP52 Ragamuffin. Of the boats now docked, Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63 Loki is currently favourite for the overall IRC handicap prize in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.

However still ahead of her on handicap is Roger Hickman’s 26 year-old Farr 43 Wild Rose. Still racing, she must finish before 08:12 local time tomorrow (30 December) if she is to beat Loki’s time under handicap.

Currently lying fourth under handicap is Michael Hiatt’s Farr 55 Living Doll, which was the sixth boat to reach Hobart, arriving at 08:46 local time this morning. Hiatt believes they lost a vital 15 minutes to Loki coming up the Derwent River on the approach to the finish. “It got back up to 30 knots and then we had a nice run up here, but it faded at the end of the Derwent,” he said.

Unlike the maxi boat leaders, which, from time to time, parked up over the latter half of their race, Hiatt said that on Living Doll they never stopped.

On the breezy first night at sea, they had seen 40 knots in the gusts. “It was really tricky. Some spooky breezes came in and they were pretty fierce. It would drop off to nothing and all of a sudden we’d get a lot more, so we had to handle that, but all of the transitions were really good. We just needed a tweak more speed.”

Hiatt sailed the race with a formidable crew including round the world race winners Steve Cotton and Noel Drennan and even had their own meteorologist on board in the form of Canadian Eric Holden.

Seventh home this morning, 12 minutes after Living Doll was Matt Allen, former Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the Rolex Sydney Hobart organisers, aboard his first generation Volvo Open 70, Ichi Ban.

Ichi Ban had suffered a few issues during the race. On the first night the lock jammed, holding their main halyard, and in the strong conditions they were forced to spend the rest of the night sailing with three reefs.  It was only on the following morning they were able to send a crewman aloft enabling them to hoist the sail fully once again.

“That meant we had a really poor first night and it was really hard to recover from there,” said Allen. “We also broke one of the D4s [rigging on the mast], but luckily we picked it up before, otherwise we would have lost the mast.”

Allen said that in 22 Rolex Sydney Hobarts, he had never previously seen such big wind shifts, especially coming down the coast of Tasmania. During the race they ended up using all the sails on board, with the exception of the heavy running spinnaker. “It was hard work for the navigators, but we had nice sailing for the last 24 hours, good reaching spinnaker work – it’s been really enjoyable. The run we had from Tasman Island to the finish was probably the best run I’ve ever had in my entire life.”

Rolex Sydney Hobart: Investec Loyal Crowned Line Honours Winner

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