Multimillionaire Bob Oatley, the owner of eight-time Sydney to Hobart line honours winning yacht Wild Oats XI, has passed away at the age of 87.
Oately died from an illness on Sunday morning having reportedly been unwell in recent months.
Oatley was an enormously successful self-made businessman, who founded wine label Rosemount Estates in 1969 and eventually sold it for $1.5 billion. In 2001, he used $200 million of this to purchase holiday destination Hamilton Island.
In sporting circles he was best known for his ownership of maxi yacht Wild Oats XI which has won line honours at the Sydney to Hobart yacht race on a record eight occasions, most recently in the 2014 race.
The yacht also held the record for the fastest completion of the race, achieving a time of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds in the 2012 race.
So attached was Oately to the sport of sailing that he refused to do business on Wednesdays, never wanting to miss the weekly sailing races in Sydney Harbour.
Despite concerns over his health Oatley was on hand for the traditional passing of his cane to Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards ahead of the 2015 Sydney to Hobart race.
The cane was considered a good luck charm by the Wild Oats crew, and had a model of the yacht’s hull as the handle.
The ship was forced to withdraw from the 2015 race on the first day after suffering a split mainsail.
In 2014, Oately was appointed as an officer of the Order of Australia for his contributions to the Australian wine and tourism industries, and the sport of yacht racing.
“To share my passions of wine, sailing and Hamilton Island, as well as my good fortunes to aid cancer research and visual arts with the people of Australia, gives me immense pleasure and pride,” said Oatley at the time.
Forbes magazine ranked him no.34 in their 2015 list of Australia’s 50 richest people, estimating his net worth at approximately $910 million.
Oatley is survived by his wife and three children.