Wild Rose certain to win Rolex Sydney Hobart as back-markers struggle

When Roger Hickman and his crew went to bed last night, it still looked as though his 29-year-old Farr 43 Wild Rose could be pipped for the handicap honours in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Two smaller yachts, Maluka of Kermandie and Quickpoint Azzurro were ahead of Wild Rose on the handicap table with less than 100nm to sail.

However, the deteriorating conditions which have hit the back-markers have left the popular CYCA member in the box seat, now certain to add the Tattersalls Cup to his bulging trophy cabinet.

At 6.30 this morning, Azzurro had dropped to 36th overall and had missed the deadline for a win. Maluka was just rounding Tasman Island, still 40nm from the finish and had less than four hours in hand. The smallest boat in the race, she doesn't sail at 10 knots even in ideal conditions.

The win will cap a stella couple of years for Hickman and his navigator Jennifer Wells. Wild Rose won Division 4 of last year's Hobart, which also won Hickman the Blue Water Points Score and the Southern Cross Cup (with Victoire and Patrice). In 2014 he won Division 2 of the NSW IRC Championship and Class C at the Australian IRC Championships before being named Ocean Racer of the Year. Wells was named navigator of the Year at the same ceremony.

The trophy and Rolex watch are likely to be presented this morning on Constitution Dock.

Wild Rose will also finish second under the ORCi handicap system, behind Ron Forster and Phil Damp's Ariel. Maluka is likely to pip Love and War for the 30 Year Veteran class under IRC. She's the Culprit will win the inaugural Corinthian Trophy for fully amateur crews.

Meanwhile the CYCA has issued  statement regarding a light plane crash in the area. AMSA is co-ordinating the search but the CYCA has indicated that a number of participating boats are available to assist. They include Mistraal, Enchantress, Kraken, Inner Circle, Helsal 3, Love and War and Wax Lyrical.

– Roger McMillan, Editor

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