OFF AND RACING: Merit in Sydney Harbour at the start of the Sydney-Hobart race on boxing day. 
Photo Kathryn Rodriguez.
OFF AND RACING: Merit in Sydney Harbour at the start of the Sydney-Hobart race on boxing day. Photo Kathryn Rodriguez.

Great results in Sydney-Hobart race

IT WAS a tough race for this year's Rolex Sydney-Hobart yacht race contenders, but local Whitsunday Sailing Club boat Merit has proved itself once again with excellent results.

Facing winds of up to 48 knots at times, Merit raced well in very tough conditions to cross the line 20th overall and 3rd in Division One of the PHS division.

Co-owner and skipper of the boat, Leo Rodriguez said they copped a bit of everything in this year's 628 nautical mile race, including strong winds, heavy rain and poor visibility, making life very difficult for the 75 boats competing.

"As races go, it was a really hard race. The crew and I are exhausted," he said.

"We parked up on both nights for a couple of hours each time, but then we faced up to 48 knots over the deck coming up to the coast of Tasmania. There were some very big seas."

"We were lucky. We only had to face the big weather for one day. The smaller boats endured it for much longer."

The boat suffered only a small amount of damage, when they blew the large 'We'd rather be in the Whitsundays' spinnaker off the top of the mast while travelling at 22 knots.

"Luckily the tape didn't blow so the spinnaker came down in one piece and we didn't have to send anyone up the mast in those conditions."

The arduous race was Merit's fifth time competing with Rodriguez as co-owner/skipper, with their best result coming in 2008 in a divisional win plus recognition for outstanding seamanship when they came to the assistance of the crew of sinking vessel Georgia.

It was a record-breaking, history-making race for the 30-metre long supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, owned by Bob Oatley, owner of Hamilton Island.

Wild Oats XI won the coveted line honours and handicap for the sixth time. They also broke the race record by 17 minutes, set previously by themselves in 2005.


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