- Wild Oats XI has claimed a record-breaking eighth line honours win
- Audi has recently came ‘on board’ as a major sponsor of the history- making yacht, extending it’s sailing sponsorship portfolio
- A gap of just six nautical miles meant victory for Wild Oats XI in the 70th annual Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Hobart, December 30, 2014 – It was the space of just six nautical miles that made the difference when it came to Bob Oatley’s supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, claiming a historic eighth line honours in the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
There were anxious times for everyone – sailors and race followers alike – as the Jim Clark-owned and built Comanche, skippered by Ken Read, continued to make gains. But the advantage Wild Oats XI had established earlier in the race withstood the test.
What followed was the most spectacular finish seen in the race’s 70-year history, Wild Oats was escorted up the Derwent River by hundreds of small boats, their wakes leaving a swathe of white water that looked like vapour trails. At the same time thousands of people lined the river banks and the docks to welcome the big boat to their city.
Bob Oatley, aged 86, was dockside to greet his yacht and crew. Inevitably the media descended on him with the big question: “Will you be going for a ninth win next year?” His answer was simple: “Ten wins sounds better to me.”
Wild Oats XI’s newest sponsor, German carmaker, Audi, announced it had joined the team in November, to celebrate the upcoming 10th anniversary of its relationship with Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and the Oatley family.
“An historic win like this is an unbeatable way to extend our partnership with Hamilton Island and the Oatley family. It was an incredibly emotional experience and without doubt proved what a great team the Wild Oats XI crew is, led by Mark Richards, and of course the great man himself, Bob Oatley. Even with such strong competition from a brand new boat like Comanche and her highly experienced crew, the Wild Oats XI team focussed on sailing a flawless race and proved that teamwork, a clear strategy and the drive to succeed can make all the difference – and produce a record-breaking performance.”
“The Audi team here in Australia could not be more proud,” Mr Doyle said.
Comanche finished to a similarly rapturous welcome 49 minutes astern of Wild Oats XI. Once that yacht was at the dock, and after Mark Richards, Ken Read and Jim Clark had saluted each other’s efforts, Clark delivered more good news: his yacht would be back for the Hobart race in two years.
Later last night, when the Wild Oats XI’s crew celebrated their win at a dinner, both Bob Oatley and Mark Richards praised the crew for the relentless, round-the-clock effort that led to the historic victory. They also warmly welcomed the Audi Team into the “Wild Oats Family” as an extension of their 10 year sponsorship.
This year’s line honours win further cements Wild Oats XI’s place as the most successful yacht to have contested the race in its 70-year history, and Mark Richards as the most successful skipper. Since being launched for the 2005 Hobart race, Wild Oats XI has become the only yacht to secure the triple-crown – line and handicap honours and a race record time – on two occasions. She is also the only yacht to have achieved four consecutive line honours.