Hickman’s Hobart victory a Wild ride

Wild Rose crew members had their share of troubles during the Sydney to Hobart.SAILING
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Bad weather and broken equipment proved no obstacle to the Hickman family and the rest of the crew aboard Wild Rose as the 43-footer claimed handicap honours at the Sydney to Hobart.

In his 38th tilt at the blue water classic, owner and skipper Roger Hickman won his third overall title on Tuesday and got to share it with 13 others on board including sister Lisa and brother Andrew.

“I’m so elated and so feeling fantastic … absolutely wonderful,” Hickman said after being presented with the Tattersall’s Cup.

It was far from smooth sailing on the way into Hobart for Wild Rose, with Hickman admitting the final 40 nautical miles were the toughest in his experience.

“Gales, winds, becalm, hail … they say it’s a normal Sydney to Hobart yacht racing,” he said.

“It made it really tough because we were losing time on the guys that had finished and gaining time on the guys behind us.”

And it wasn’t the first nervous moment on board either.

When Wild Rose reached Tasmania’s mid-east coast early on Monday potential disaster struck in the form of a broken steering cable.

It was a blow that made navigator Jenifer Wells think any chance at handicap honours was blown.

“It was looking pretty dicey,” she said.

“We got the emergency tiller up and got the kite [spinnaker] down in 30 knot [winds] and repaired the cable and were back on track in 30 minutes.”

Hickman though took it all in his stride.

“It was a learning experience, it was a bit of fun,” he said of the broken cable and subsequent emergency repairs.

The boat, formerly named Wild Oats and owned by Bob Oatley, whose supermaxi Wild Oats XI took line honours on Sunday, took handicap honours in the 628-nautical mile race in a corrected time of three days, 10 hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds.

Hickman, 60, said he will be back for more Sydney to Hobart action next year.

As the last boat – Southern Myth – reached Hobart on Tuesday afternoon the usual celebrations were muted.

A light plane carrying a pilot and photographer crashed into waters near the Tasman Peninsula on Monday and neither man, aged 29 and 61 respectively, have been found. The aircraft also remains missing.

They had been photographing the racing boats along southeast Tasmania and the plane crashed within 300 metres of competitor Mistraal.

Crew on board the boat radioed for help and along with six other racing yachts went to help in the search.

The yachts which diverted to assist were praised by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Cameron.

Police continue a widespread search. – AAP

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