Gusto finishing the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race on Wednesday.
Gusto finishing the Pittwater to Coffs Harbour yacht race on Wednesday.

Gallant in defeat


AFTER going neck and neck for nearly 30 hours with Wild Oats X, Stephen David could still afford to wear a smile like a kid on Christmas morning after losing out on the race for line honours.

As the owner of Wild Joe, David was far from disappointed that his sixty foot vessel came in second eight minutes and 35 seconds behind the eventual winner.

"We're delighted with the result and looking like winning on handicap," David said not long after mooring his 60 footer in the marina on Tuesday night.

"For us to even attempt to beat Wild Oats on the water is an amazing achievement on it's own."

In reality David knew that Wild Joe would find it difficult to defeat the larger opponent in a straight out race so winning on handicap was always a more realistic goal.

"It's the best because you're up against 63 boats to win on handicap," he explained.

"The line honours race is between only two or three boats but on handicap you're against all of them.

"A lot of people in the general public don't understand that it's not like a sprint race or a game of soccer where first across the line is the winner. To achieve a handicap win is everything."

David did admit though that towards the end of the race natural competitive instincts took over and thoughts of merely winning the division and race on handicap were thrown out the window.

"We just wanted to finish in sight of Wild Oats, we didn't even think about being beside them," he said.

"Towards the end when we had them in sight we just had to go for it."

The light conditions that frustrated so many of the noted downwind flyers played right into the hands of Wild Joe and played a big part in the boat being a part of the battle for line honours.

"It took forever to get here,"

"We like the light stuff particularly against the 66 Wild Oats."

Fifteen nautical miles from Coffs Harbour Wild Joe was actually ahead of the race favourite.

"They went off shore looking for breeze and we stayed on shore," David explained of the tactics involved as both boats went looking for valuable breeze.

"We got lucky as it was us that got a lot of the pressure which allowed us to stay with them."

In the final stages of the race a large southerly breeze blew up and once Wild Oats X was able to put up it's large spinnaker the writing was on the wall.

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