THE OATLEY family’s ambition of a record 10th line honours victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will remain on hold, after their prized 100-foot maxi Hamilton Island Wild Oats finished fourth over the line, in the 2022 ocean classic.
Skipper Mark Richards and his Hamilton Island Wild Oats team of 21, including decorated American navigator Stan Honey and America’s Cup veteran and Kiwi tactician Murray Jones, took one day 13 hours 38 minutes to complete the 628 nautical mile passage, in fast downwind conditions.
“It was a pretty tough race for us, we had a game plan, and it didn’t work out,” Richards explained dockside early on the morning of December 28.
“Andoo Comanche showed her dominance and the other two boats, LawConnect and Black Jack, did a fantastic job. It was a beautiful race; a lot of fun and a lot of challenges.”
They also blew up a key spinnaker, which was tailormade for a sprint south with the breeze behind.
Their sail wardrobe had been compromised and this proved costly in terms of their final result.
Hamilton Island Wild Oats went into the 77th edition of the Southern Hemisphere’s most famous bluewater race meticulously prepared and with a rigorous crew training block ticked off.
Plus, the forecast was promising.
Following the action-packed Boxing Day start, Hamilton Island Wild Oats and LawConnect were the first to leave a packed Sydney Harbour and find clear air in the fresh summer nor’easter.
From there, Hamilton Island Wild Oats opted to stay inshore, the shorter route to Hobart, while the other three 100-footers went out wide, east of the rhumb line.
“We missed the first big shift in the early evening of the first day,” Hamilton Island Wild Oats crewman Matt Mason said.
“We stayed inshore because it suited our mode. The boats, the big beamy maxis, as well as Black Jack, all went offshore sailing at higher angles.
“Then there was a big, big left-hand shift, which they gybed on. That gave them about 15 miles of leverage over us. That’s massive. Then it happened one more time,” remarked the four-time America’s Cup winner.
Line honours went to the Winning family’s Andoo Comanche, followed by LawConnect and Black Jack in second and third.
By Lisa Ratcliff.