Triple triumph as Wild Oats wins historic treble



HOBART, AAP ? Wild Oats XI has made Sydney to Hobart history, becoming the first boat to clinch the line honours, race record and handicap treble since Rani in the inaugural event in 1945.

The Australian super maxi yesterday won the yacht race's IRC division, making it only the sixth boat in history to win line honours and handicap.

The official announcement will be made today, but Wild Oats has set an impossible target for the 2005 fleet.

Ray White Koomooloo was the last boat in contention for handicap honours but rough weather has thwarted her hopes. Wild Oats finished the 628 nautical mile race just after 7am (AEST) on Wednesday, smashing Nokia's 1999 line honours record by more than an hour.

The $10 million high-tech carbon fibre yacht is the first boat since Sovereign in 1987 to win line honours and handicap.

A Sydney to Hobart debutante, Wild Oats had contested only a handful of short races after her launch in November before taking on the gruelling Bass Strait conditions. Skipper Mark Richards made a race-winning move inshore on the first night, leaving New Zealand maxi Alfa Romeo ? which was designed and built by the same people ? waiting for wind offshore.

Alfa Romeo finished second ? one hour, 16 minutes and 21 seconds after her near-identical rival.

"We just kept sailing away from Alfa the whole time,'' Richards said.

Richards said he expected the new-breed super maxis to shave the new record of 1:18:40:10 to around 35 hours, "given the right conditions''.

"Bigger boats go faster, it's as simple as that,'' he said. "I'm sure this record will be shattered.''

The crew of Quantum Racing, including Gladstone's Murray Hughes, were 21st across the line overall and yesterday looked to have finished ninth on handicap in the IRC category and fifth in Division B.



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