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29 December 2004, 10:13 am
Nicorette Takes Line Honours
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Danile Forster/Rolex

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
Hobart, Tasmania

The 90-foot super maxi Nicorette has taken Line Honours in the 60th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, giving owner/skipper Ludde INGVALL his second victory in four years. Nicorette crossed the finish line off Hobart's Castray Esplanade at 5.10.44 am on a chilly and wet morning, sailing up the Derwent River under spinnaker in an 8 knot southerly breeze.
The finish was in marked contrast to the galeforce winds that Nicorette and the other boats in the now decimated fleet have experienced over the past 24 hours.

Her elapsed time for the race of about 2 days 16 hours 00 minutes 44 seconds is more than 21 hours outside Nokia's record of 1 day 19 hours 48 minutes 02 seconds set in 1999.

"I feel more tired than I've ever felt in my life." With those words an emotional but subdued Ludde INGVALL docked his 90-foot maxi Nicorette at Hobart after taking line honours in the 60th Anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race after two days sixteen hours and forty-four seconds at sea.

This is the second time Ingvall has achieved this victory, but the nature of this 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart with its galeforce winds and big seas, and especially the disaster that met Skandia and her crew yesterday, clearly coloured his emotions as he explained how he did it.

"This (the Rolex Sydney Hobart) is the two toughest days you can spend in ocean racing," he said, "it feels like three weeks."

Ingvall said that even before the start of the race on Boxing Day, when he saw the weather forecasts, he knew that this year it was going to be a demolition derby. His whole strategy would be based on sailing a conservative race so that he got the boat across the line. This meant often sailing with smaller sails and slowing the boat down. "These supermaxis can launch off the waves with too much power, too much speed. That's when they can break up," he said.

So the plan was to get as close to the Tasmanian coast as possible to get out of the seas. Nicorette hugged the coast, taking the roundabout scenic route, sailing inside Maria Island while the two supermaxis stayed further out to sea. The smaller boats have little option but to take on the big seas in order to get the best wind, but Ingvall explained that these huge supermaxis don't need much wind to travel at exceptional speeds.

"You saw that as we came up the river this morning," he said to the waiting media and spectators. 'Six knots of wind and we were doing 13 knots. In flat water these boats are exceptional. In big seas they are just another boat," he said.

Skipper of Maxi Yacht Nicorrette
Even sailing so conservatively through the storm took its toll on Nicorette, with the crew having to use bolts from the bunks to patch up cracks in the carbon hull. "We were boat building all the way," he joked. He admitted there were times when he wasn't sure they were going to make it.

Describing the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as one of the toughest races he has ever been in, the loss of Skandia is playing on his mind. When asked whether he would be back next year he said that he needs to think hard about that. Gesturing towards his crew he said "I would never want to lead these fifteen intelligent young men into a situation like the one Skandia faced yesterday. As the skipper it is your responsibility."

"It's a tough game. This is the hardest race of all. There is nowhere to escape. You can turn around but that is not in our nature. It is an amazing event. The best and toughest ocean race in the world. I feel sad for those who won't make it to Hobart. Mother nature doesn't forgive."

Incredibly Nicorette may only stay in Hobart for a few hours before heading back to Sydney for the Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Race, which starts on 2 January.

'We will have a crew meeting before making the decision to head back to Sydney although I would like to be the first boat to take line honours in both races with the same boat within the same season,' Ingvall said.

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