Twin win for Oatley in Big Boat Challenge

Octogenarian yacht owner Bob Oatley took away all the Big Boat Challenge prizes as his Wild Oats boats claimed line and overall honours on Tuesday.

Super maxi Wild Oats XI totally dominated the 14-nautical mile race around Sydney Harbour on her way to claiming line honours in the event for the sixth time.

The race was held under cloudy skies in strong southerly breezes of up to 25 knots on Sydney Harbour.

Wild Oats XI, the five-time Sydney to Hobart race line honours winner, completed the course in one hour one minute and 37 seconds, more than nine minutes clear of Lahana (1:10.47).

Third across the line Wild Oats X (1:12.46) claimed overall honours on the day ahead 2011 Sydney to Hobart handicap champion Loki.

With two other Sydney to Hobart line honours-winning boats Ragamuffin Loyal and Wild Thing not lining up, Wild Oats XI led all the way.

While a high profile part of the lead-up to the Sydney to Hobart, the Challenge is no form guide to the classic event which is over 600 nautical miles longer.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards said the southerly winds and sloppy chop made for a testing day despite the magnitude of his boat’s victory.

“It was a lot of work,” Richards said.

“The boat was flying around the race track and didn’t give us much time to set up for sail changes and stuff.

“Ropes were going everywhere. The best thing for us is we got around unscathed, with all fingers and toes. It was a good workout.”

Peter Millard, the owner of Lahana, which finished third across the line in the last two Sydney to Hobarts, conceded Wild Oats XI was a much faster boat.

“Wild Oats XI is a generation apart. We realise we are a bubbling V8 against a V12.”

With Troy Tindall at the helm, the 66-foot Wild Oats X ensured Oatley had two reasons to celebrate Tuesday’s race.

Tindall assembled of a crew of mates in Wild Oats X, which won’t be contesting the Hobart race.

“We sailed together for half an hour yesterday and before the start there were some pretty nervous moments,” Tindall said.

“But we got a really good start and took off from there.”

Loki shredded a spinnaker on the first downwind leg of the race but held on to second spot in the overall battle ahead of Black Jack.


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