big pimpin’


The McConaghy built 100 foot supermaxi Alfa Romeo with Neville Crichton at the helm led from start to finish, taking line honours in the 2009 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. This is the 144th win Crichton has enjoyed at the helm of Alfa Romeo, a remarkable achievement for a boat launched in 2005.

Second over the line was Wild Oats XI, two hours behind Alfa Romeo and 16 hours outside her own 2005 race record. Skipper of the four-time line honours winner Mark Richards vowed to return next year, after finishing second to arch rival and near sistership, supermaxi Alfa Romeo just after midnight. Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard crossed the finish at 05.45 this morning make it a remarkable 1, 2, 3, for McConaghy boats.

The three supermaxis opened a huge 80 nautical mile gap on the remainder of the fleet by emerging first from calms and light air created by a high pressure ridge in Bass Strait, then ran into more frustrating light patches off the east coast of Tasmania.

It had been a long haul up the Derwent River for Alfa Romeo, with the variable breeze on the River forcing two headsail changes in the last seven miles. At one stage they dropped down to two knots of boat speed as the breeze evaporated and for 15 minutes  it looked as though the dreaded Derwent midnight doldrums were about to descend.  But the breeze picked up and the giant yacht powered up again to about 13 knots for the final lunge to the finish line, crossing at 10.02pm. “I’m glad Wild Oats XI wasn’t at our heels then,” Crichton joked dockside. Leopard photo above by Crosbie Lorimer, text by Blue Robinson.