The 74th Annual Rolex Sydney to Hobart race of 2018 was a true nail-biter, from start to finish. The final hours saw a four-way battle between supermaxis in the race for line honours, with Wild Oats XI taking out the winning title. The race was reported as one of the closest contests that the Sydney-Hobart has seen in its 74 years of racing.
The Oatley family’s Wild Oats XI, skippered by Palm Beach’s founder and CEO Mark Richards, was the first yacht to cross the finish line. Taking out first line honours after one day, 19 hours, 7 minutes and 21 seconds. Black Jack took out second place, overtaking Comanche in a suspenseful last 100 metres, Comanche followed closely placing in third, with Infotrack placing fourth. Tasmanian yacht Alive was declared the races handicap winner, taking out overall honours for performance in its size.
The Wild Oats XI win came with relief after the race committee launched a protest, with allegations from another owner that Wild Oats XI’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) wasn’t transmitting throughout the race. However, their record ninth win stood strong with the allegations dismissed at the protest, it was later found out that a live-stream caused interference with the yachts electronic systems. The win marked a magnificent redemption for Wild Oats XI after being denied the title last year when a time penalty was applied.
The top four yachts, Wild Oats XI, Black Jack, Comanche and Infotrack changed lead position several times toward the finish line. All four staying within a tight 4-mile radius of each other toward the end, making it one of the closest races on record and delivering a spectacular view to all those watching on. Wild Oats XI split away from the pack early Friday morning chasing winds just outside Tasman Island, this tactical play put them ahead of their competitors, soon to cross the finish line. With Wild Oats XI taking out first place, the last three supermaxis were left to battle it out up the Derwent.
The Oatley family have continuously modified and maintained Wild Oats XI and at 14 years of age she is competing better than ever. Richards has been the skipper on Wild Oats XI in the Sydney to Hobart Race since 2005, working closely with the Oatley family and guiding the team. The race marked the 9th line honours victory for Wild Oats XI in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart, and for Richards, a new race record for the amount of line honours. Spectators watched on in suspense as she ventured toward the finish line, including 6 Palm Beach Yachts and the Oatley family. A great commendation to everyone that participated in the race and a special congratulations to Mark, the entire team, and the Oatley family on an amazing race.