The Australian team from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney, were declared winners of the 2003 Admiral's Cup early this morning, after a somewhat nerve wracking wait for boats to finish, and points to be calculated.
Bob OATLEY, whose boat Wild Oats had stormed home to win the final race, and snatch the trophy from the hands of the Spanish team, was almost overcome with pride when he got the news.
"It's really special, we're just so happy,"
enthused Oatley, "we just can't believe it, people are waking up everywhere and coming in the door, it's absolutely unbelievable, the thrill of a lifetime.
"To win it on the last race, and in a pretty convincing fashion, also top boat of the regatta, it's really spectacular."
Owner of Aftershock, the other boat in the team, Colin O'NEIL was equally overwhelmed by the occasion, "this is wonderful, unbelievable,"
was his emotional summing up of the achievement, "it's been a long night waiting, a lot of combinations had to come our way, but it finally did."
The series of nine races has been pretty much a two horse race from the start, between Spain's Real Club Nautico de Sangenjo, and the Australians, with the Spanish going into the final race with a one point lead.
Aftershock was the first of the two Australian boats to finish, at 19:16:27 on Sunday evening, and it soon became evident that they were third on handicap, with the Spanish boat Telefonica Movistar winning the small boat class.
This meant that Wild Oats had to win the big boat class, with their Spanish rivals on the King of Spain's Bribon Telefonica Movistar in fourth place or worse, an unlikely scenario considering her seven first places and one second in the series to date.
Mark Richards steered Wild Oats across the finishing line at 22:07:37, and the long and agonising wait began for the other big boats to finish.
The minutes and hours ticked by, and eventually the race organisers worked out the handicaps and Australia were declared provisional winners, which will be confirmed provided no protests are submitted.
Helmsman of Wild Oats, Mark RICHARDS, broke the news to his team mates, "It's 2 am here in England, and the Australian Admiral's Cup team has just been informed that they've just won the Admiral's Cup, and we are very proud, the convicts have come through.
"We are ecstatic, ecstatic, Australia hasn't won the Admiral's Cup since 1979, and this is a fantastic thing, we are elated, and we've got to get on with the party.
"The last hour has been nerve wracking, very nerve wracking, waiting for the other competitors to finish."
Final Team Results
|Royal Prince Alfred Team
|Telefonica Movistar Sailing Team
|Sailability RORC Team
|Team Royal Southern
|Team Bear - RTYC
|Team Paprec Recyclage - UNCL
|Estrella Galicia Sailing Team
|Sailability CCYC Team