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Sydney - Hobart Wrap Up

  • Posted by Patrick Bollen
  • January 14, 2012 3:05 PM AEDT

Imagine running the Melbourne Cup or even the Kentucky Derby, seeing your horse or the horse you backed win but not win because of a protest. Sure, it happens and usually the protest is heard within minutes of the horse or horses crossing the line. You’d be peeved and if it happened on several occassions you’d probably give the game away, wouldn’t you? Okay, maybe not.

Not so in yachting. The 2011 line honours winner, Anthony Bell’s INESTEC LOYAL had to wait almost 18 hours before victory was bestowed upon them.18 hours. That’s a long time to wait to celebrate.The reality of this delay is the crew needed to prepare a defence difficult at any time but even more so when tired, in many cases exhausted following a gruelling ocean race and therefore not in the best frame to attend a hearing of any kind.

The Hobart Race Committee motored alongside Investec Loyal moments after they took the race line honours beating the famous supermaxi WILD OATS XI across the line off Battery Point in Hobart by 3 minutes and 8 seconds delivering a protest by the Committee stating that INVESTEC LOYAL had breached Race Rule 41 regarding outside assistance claiming that the LOYAL crew had engaged in conversation with an ABC media helicopter crew asking questions about the colour of rival WILD OATS’ that helps INVESTEC LOYAL completely eludes me.

Covering the race for SKY News and the Macquarie Radio Network I was asked the question. I stated that it was likely that the media might unknowingly somehow be involved.Tactician Michael Coxon had answered some questions as LOYAL sailed south in punishing conditions. As he was signing off he asked the helicopter pilot the colour of WILD OATS mainsail. This innocent question was according to Bell and Coxon was not to seek nor gain advantage but purely as a question relating to his business. Coxon is a sailmaker and had produced a new mainsail for WILD OATS XI at a cost of a about $250.000.Coxon was relieved to learn that Wild Oats XI was still sailing with the new mainsail.

After a three hour deliberation the following day, December 29, to it’s credit the Race Committee found in favour of LOYAL and dismissed the protest.Good thing they saw reason. Had the Race Jury upheld the protest  it could’ve, demoralised many people not only the LOYAL crew but the sporting public and the yachting fraternity world wide. It might have done great harm to this iconic annual Aussie sporting event widely considered as the toughest test of ocean racing in the world.

“A great moment was taken away from my crew as we crossed the line beating our nemisis by a solid margin but I would prefer that if there was any question mark, about our win, that it be dealt with properly- and now it has,” said Investec Loyal skipper and owner Anthony Bell. Michael Coxon on the other hand was tougher on the committee, ‘I hope there’s a lesson in this. A simple phone call would have cleared this matter up. My question was purely one of interests and concern – nothing to be gained for me. It was misconstrued. Really,” Coxon added.

Stephen Ainsworth, after trying for 14 years finally cracked the big one, being named overall winner of the 628 nautical mile ocean thriller taking home the Tattersall’s Trophy and the Rolex watch. 

Second by just 50 minutes and 21 seconds was Melbourne yachtsman Michaell Hiatt with his 2008 build, Farr 55 LIVING DOLL while the great old fella of the sport Syd Fischer taking third place overall with his famous RAGAMUFFIN. 

Tony Levett on TSA Management-Eleni won the Sydney 38 Division for the second time in as many years beating Round World Solo sailor Jessica Watson on Ella Bache-Another Challenge while Bruce Foye took 3rd place. 

Syd Fischer and Ragamuffin won the ORCi Division from Jazz and Calm and Quetzalcoatl won the PHS Division from Southern Excellence and Wasabi.

The 2011 Sydney to Hobart will best be remembered not for the start or the difficult southerly and the horrible seas encountered by all competitors nor will it be remembered for the flukey and fickle conditions on the Tassie coast. It will be best remembered most for the ridiculous protest that almost wiped out a popular victory for a boat crewed by a bunch of likely lads who gave it their best shot and by doing so did endear themselves to a nation of supporters and followers of sport and sailing.

A crew who in a slower, older boat beat a much faster multi million dollar effort considered the best yacht in the country with a record second to none with 5 Hobart wins to her brag sheet and the current race record holder. 

Investec Loyal not only won the 2011 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race but also made a nation more aware of the great charity Anthony Bell and his crew support – The Loyal Foundation and again this year the Humpty Dumpty Foundation. The Loyal Foundation was set up to raise funds for struggling charities, so they can continue to help those who are in need and brighten the lives of those less fortunate.Investec Loyal was the sentimental favourite this year. She was, you might say, The peoples boat. The popular win continues to be celebrated around the country.

Looking forward to next year's event, as always!

Patrick "Tenpin" Bollen