Sailing: Tuke's rough ride

By Cameron Leslie


Kerikeri Olympic silver medallist Blair Tuke has completed a baptism of fire on board Rikki in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

"It was pretty tough," said Tuke. "Especially off Tasman (Island), where we had 45 knots of wind, but the reception here in Hobart was awesome."

Tuke, 23, reached the finish in 27th shortly after 9am on Sunday after spending nearly four days at sea battling Tangaroa (god of the sea) and testing himself against the raw elements during the 628-mile offshore race just four months after the Olympics.

Tuke told Bruce Montgomery of the Rolex Sydney Hobart media team the elements weren't in his team's favour during the race.

"It was good fun," said Tuke. "We didn't quite get the weather we were looking for."

Tuke said it was now a matter of going back to Olympic class sailing in New Zealand to try to catch some of the summer.

Meanwhile, Wild Oats XI took out line honours as they crossed the line two days before Tuke's team.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards said the win amends for last year's defeat which was the spur for the super-maxi's record-breaking charge to a sixth Sydney to Hobart win.

Wild Oats crossed the line just before 7.30am (AEDT) Friday with a new race record of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, breaking the mark they set in 2005 by nearly 17 minutes.

The win adds to line honours victories in 2005-08 and 2010, and comes after Investec Loyal pipped Oats by minutes in 2011.

"It was a really tough, testing race for the team and the crew and the gear handling," Richards said. "It was a very, very tricky night last night and we got here and after last year's defeat the boys were on a real mission this year to redeem ourselves."

Owner Bob Oatley agreed.

"It made it even sweeter and next year will be sweeter again to get seven," Oatley said.

Wild Oats' crew had all but given up on breaking the race record after rounding Tasman Island.

Westerlies of 10-15 knots late on Thursday night replaced the strong northerlies that had powered the boat to a position hours ahead of its record pace.

But, as tactician Iain Murray had predicted, Oats picked up the forecast southwesterlies and increased speed as they tacked along the River Derwent.

A handful of spectator crafts were on hand to escort the boat to the finish line, where a crowd lined the shore as Richards and his crew were presented with the John Illingworth trophy.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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