Wild Oats XI wins Sydney to Hobart race 2017

Posted on December 27, 2017 12:57 am

The 2017 Sydney to Hobart yacht race winner Wild Oats XI skippered by Mark Richards crossed the line about 9:50pm in Hobart on Wednesday in a time of 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds. That means it smashed the race record and won its ninth title, after defeating Comanche to the line in one of the closest finish in history.Sophie Walsh a reporter at channel nine wrote on twitter expecting a record breaking race, a view that has come to pass.Interestingly, Comanche reached the River Derwent a couple of minutes ahead of Wild Oats XI, however they were both becalmed in the snail paced last leg and thats where lighter Wild Oats XI found more speed upriver to cross the line, and finished just 26 minutes and 34 seconds ahead of Comanche.That was about four hours and 40 minutes faster than the record set last year by Perpetual LOYAL. Initially it was Comanche’s race as it had led the field down the east coast of Tasmania with nemesis Wild Oats XI trailing by about 20 nautical miles.Few hours before the finish, the two boats were at par with each other, charging down the coast at up to 30 knots. Wild Oats XI overtook Comanche before the lead ebbed and changed as they entered Tasman Island and made for the Derwent.The race began after weather briefing, thousands of spectators also lined Sydney harbour foreshore to catch the start of the 73rd edition.

Racers as they exit Sydney heading to Hobert. Picture courtesy of a friend who attended the race

Television images showed there were near-crash for two leading chances close to the exit to Sydney Heads, as Comanche who was second at the time had the right of way, but that didn’t work out as Wild Oats XI was charging and the boats got very close coming to the turning mark.Then shouts from both boats ensued, then Wild Oats XI made a late move with the boats coming within metres of each other which forced Comanche to change course.That led to skipper Jimmy Spithill on Comanche lodging in an official protest, a move that didn’t deter Wild Oats XI going clear into second as they came out into the ocean behind Black Jack who pulled away to get a surprise early advantage heading south. A previous racer of the race told your blogger that he believes that the winner will come from the four supermaxis of LDV Comanche, Wild Oats XI, InfoTrack and Black Jack as he sees them as the favorites to win.At the time of talking to him, there was a huge gap between the leading three and InfoTrack in fourth, followed by Wizard and then Beau Geste travelling further behind.In terms of weather, there was lighter winds on the harbour at the start, but race favourite Comanche was out early with Black Jack, and InfoTrack in third followed by Beau Geste. Wild Oats XI was a little further back after a slow start. Overall, watching the race live was lovely and look forward to attending the 74th edition next year.

A day after publication of this post, Wild Oats XI was stripped of line honours following a successful protest over a near collision with LDV Comanche on Boxing Day. Wild Oats Xi was penalised an hour for the incident which wiped its 26 minutes and 34-second winning margin they finished 16 minutes ahead of LDV Comanche. As a result, LDV Comanche has been named the new line honours winner. The decision was made by a five-person jury in Hobart on 28th December 2017.  A tweet posted by the Rolex Sydney to Hobart page confirmed the decision. “Breaking: Wild Oats XI had to keep clear, failed to keep clear while tacking, Oats did not do turn. Decision is penalised by one hour. Comanche formally lodge a protest against Wild Oats, after the near-miss coming out of Sydney.The boats came came close to colliding about 15 minutes into the race on Boxing Day, with the LDV Comanche crew raising a protest flag shortly afterward.LDV Comanche owner Jim Cooney said he was surprised by the verdict.“It’s a surprise, a very pleasant surprise to be standing here.”  Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards said he was disappointed by the decision. “We are very disappointed but I can see the jury’s point of view.Everyone’s a genius in hindsight. We made or decisions and have to live with them today. We’ll get back up on the horse.”

Contador Harrison