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Rolex Sydney Hobart

Alfa Romeo takes line honours in Hobart

2 days, 9 hours, 2 minutes and 10 seconds for Neville Crichton’ supermaxi

lundi 28 décembre 2009Redaction SSS [Source RP]

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Neville Crichton’s New Zealand supermaxi Alfa Romeo has taken line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, crossing the finish line opposite Castray Esplanade on the Derwent River at 22:02:10hrs for an elapsed time of 2 days, 9 hours, 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

Averaging 10 knots in a reasonably consistent N/NW breeze on the river, the silver maxi made easy work of the final stretch. At last the seasoned crew of 22 Australian, New Zealand and British round the world and America’s Cup America's Cup #AmericasCup sailors could stop looking over their shoulders.

Crichton led the race from the early hours of Sunday morning when she opened a 20 mile lead on Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI and Mike Slade’s British supermaxi ICAP Leopard.

The win is sweet revenge for the New Zealand yachtsman. Four years ago these same, near identical Reichel Pugh designed maxis staged a dramatic dual in the 2005 Rolex Sydney Hobart. That year it was Wild Oats XI’s turn, beating Alfa Romeo across the line by 49 minutes. Ironically, then it was first use of a wind shift off the NSW coast that gave Wild Oats XI her decisive break. This year it was Crichton’s turn to get the jump, again off the NSW coastline.

After that heartbreaking near miss, Crichton took Alfa Romeo to Europe to campaign on the northern hemisphere circuit. This victory marks his triumphant return to the Australian ocean classic.

The Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats XI still had 16 miles to go when Alfa Romeo crossed the line, with ICAP Leopard a further 24 miles astern.

Crichton’s victory brings to an end an extraordinary run of four straight line honours wins for Wild Oats XI, including a rare double line honours and handicap win, plus a new course record Record #sailingrecord set in 2005.

This is the second line honours victory for Crichton. He won in 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart with a previous Alfa Romeo.

Despite the late hour, one of the biggest spectator fleets in years, accompanied Alfa Romeo up the final few miles of the 628 nautical mile course, while a sizeable crowd gathered along the foreshore to welcome the victorious crew.

Tonight’s win caps an extraordinary tally of 143 line honours wins worldwide for the 100 footer. This year it has set new records in the HSBC Premier Coastal Classic and the TransPac race.

A crowd of several hundred people crowded the Constitution Wharf marina to watch the finish and cheer Alfa in to the dock. Asked, as Alfa Romeo berthed, how he was feeling, Crichton said : "It’s fantastic and the welcome here in Tasmania is unbelievable."

He praised his crew, half of them New Zealanders and half Australian : "The 22 guys I have are the best crew in the world. The two days coming down the coast was hard work and it was good ; the boys did a helluva job on the boat and it was very, very close racing."

Was the lack of wind frustrating ? "Oh no, we were very busy the whole race."

Did he see the win as sweet revenge for the 2005 defeat by Wild Oats XI ? "Every win is a good win. It has taken me four years to come back and do it, so it was even nicer. He added, "Winning the Rolex Sydney Hobart is the ultimate in ocean racing."

Crichton was presented with a Rolex Yacht-Master timepiece and the JH Illingworth trophy for his line honours win. The victory-pumped Crichton showed his mischievous sense of humour at the dockside presentation ; MC Steve Barker asked Crichton if he had any message for the skippers of Leopard and Wild Oats, who had challenged a couple of times. He raised a big laugh with the answer and a gesture toward the River Derwent : "Where ARE they ?"

At 0015, ICAP Leopard was 35.6nm from the finish making 8.6 kn. There were 93 yachts still to finish from a fleet of 100 starters, with five retired.

- Press info

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