Hobart race is fair: Richards

By , 30 Dec 2012

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    Anti big boat or too dominated by super-maxis? The Sydney to Hobart has been accused of both in recent times.

    Banned skipper Grant Wharington suggested race officials had it in for maxis like his Wild Thing.

    Others say the Wild Oats XI-dominated event has become a cash-dominated grand prix on water.

    Oats’ six line honours wins in eight years and its 2012 treble of line and handicap wins in a new race record will only make the latters’ voices louder.

    Owner Bob Oatley’s wealth has been estimated at nearly $900 million.

    But Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards insists the Sydney to Hobart’s complex handicap system means it remains a fair contest between boats of all shapes and sizes.

    “I’m not sure where all that sort of stuff comes from,” he told reporters at Constitution Dock on Saturday.

    “The Hobart is all about everyone, basically, whether you’re a super-maxi or the smallest boat in the fleet.

    “Sean Langman’s out there for another couple of days in (last placed) Maluka but he’s still as important to the race as we are so it’s a race for everyone.”

    Wild Oats is considered one of the fastest boats of its type in the world and a challenger isn’t likely to suddenly appear.

    Its loss to rival maxi Investec Loyal last year in light winds is considered a hiccup after modifications to address the problem.

    “As far as an ocean racing mono-hull (goes), it’s one of the fastest boats in the world and it probably will be for a long time,” Richards said.

    “There’s no big new boats on the horizon anywhere in the world at the moment so it will be interesting to see what happens.”

    But he said winning Australia’s bluewater classic was no lay-down misere.

    “There’s plenty of yachts out there challenging us,” he said.

    “We had good yachts challenging us this year and there’s good boats challenging every year.

    “Hobart’s a difficult race and you’ve got to do a really good job and big boats are hard to sail in difficult conditions and these guys did a fantastic job.”

    © AAP 2014
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