Assa Abloy timed her finish to perfection to win line honours in the 57th CYCA Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race when she slipped across the finish line in full view of a huge crowd on a busy Saturday morning at just before 10 am local time.
Skipper Neal McDonald was jubilant, smiling for the waiting media who almost sank the crowded pontoon, anxious to get his first thoughts. "A walk in the park" was how McDonald described the last few days. Standing in the sunshine in the cockpit of Assa Abloy, McDonald said that winning line honours felt "terrific, fantastic", adding "It's one of THE races I've always enjoyed doing and to get over the line first is a real bonus."
Amongst the smiling faces, one in particular was missing. Swedish stalwart, Magnus Olsson, was taken quietly off the boat before she entered the harbour, and whisked to a nearby hospital with suspected internal injury to his liver and spleen, caused by a heavy fall across the boat early in the race. It was doubtful that he would be able to return to join the crew for the remaining part of the leg to Auckland, but as Assa Abloy approached the start line at the mouth of the Derwent River, with just eight minutes before their restart time, a RIB appeared and a smiling and waving Olsson was delivered back to the boat saying "When I can make it to Hobart, I can easily make it to Auckland."
The crew of Assa Abloy was presented with the Illingworth Trophy for their line honours win by Mr Jim Bacon, the Premier of Tasmania, who also presented a them with a beautiful half model of a V.O.60 crafted from Tasmanian timber for being the first V.O.60 to cross the finishing line. Each crewmember was presented with a medallion.
In the midst of all the line honours activity, Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One arrived in the harbour followed almost immediately by Tyco, Djuice, News Corp and illbruck. The crowds were rushing up and down Elizabeth Street Pier looking over the harbour wall and down onto the boats as the crews gathered for interviews with the waiting media.
Illbruck Challenge was the team who were presented with the Livingstone Trophy for being the first boat south of Tasman Island and it was Robert (Biddy) Badenach, the Commodore of the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, who presented this trophy.
Hans Sommer, Commodore of The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) presented their local boat, News Corp, with the Jack Rokklyn trophy for being the first boat out of The Sydney Heads. This team also collected AUS$10,000 in prize money for being the first boat round the seaward mark, a fund of which they have decided to donate to the NSW Bush Fire Relief Fund.
Six of the eight V.O.60s contending leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race filled the top seven places of the CYCA Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, with just the maxi yacht, Nicorette, splitting the fleet and finishing second.
Followers of the Sydney Hobart say that this is the closest contest in the history of the race, with just 47 minutes covering the first seven boats.
At the mouth of the Derwent River, a 10 to 12 knot southerly breeze was waiting for the boats as they collected, ready to cross the line in procession. Assa Abloy arrived in the start area only 10 minutes before her start time and immediate hoisted a code zero sail. She was already approximately three miles down the track when Amer Sports One started 24 minutes later. The unstable wind, shifting up to 20 degrees, continued to build, giving the late starters a tiny advantage, but putting it right at the limit for the big code zero sails.
Amer Sports One was the only yacht forced to tack to avoid the Iron Pot; an island formerly used as a rendering station for whale blubber, hence its name.
After 200 yards, Tyco, starting in third position, swapped to a jib, followed by illbruck and Tyco. Djuice held on to their code zero. The ladies onboard Amer Sports Too made a brief stop last night to fix their broken forestay and are expected to reach Hobart later on today.
Local finish times for CYCA Sydney Hobart Yacht Race:
Assa Abloy 09:46:43
Amer Sports One 10:10:31
News Corp 10:32:26