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Hickman wild about carrying on Oatley legacy

THE 70th Sydney to Hobart Classic will be remembered as a wild race. But not because of the big seas and high winds which claimed 15 of the 117-strong fleet but due to the achievements of Wild Oats and Wild Rose.

Both yachts had been owned by Bob Oatley, whose 100-foot super maxi Wild Oats XI claimed her own slice of history with a record eighth line-honours victory on Sunday.

The crew of Wild Rose, which included three Sunshine Coast sailors among its 14-strong crew, including teenager Samantha Scott, crossed the finish line at Constitution Dock on Monday but had to wait until most of the fleet finished yesterday before being officially declared the overall race winner on corrected time.

Wild Rose's new owner, Roger Hickman, who crewed in three Sydney to Hobart's races with Oatley before buying the boat from him, was overcome with emotion.

"I feel lucky and privileged to have Bob Oatley's boat," said a clearly emotional Hickman.

"I did three Hobarts with Bob on this boat. When I bought the boat from him in 1991, he almost gave it to me.

"He was so generous. I was a young merchant navy officer then and I was honoured and privileged to sail with him and the others.

"Six years later when I went to buy the boat, I only had half the money, so I asked Bob if he could wait while I tried to raise the rest. He said to me, 'Roger, you were the only guy to ever go to the bar and buy me a drink, don't worry about the rest."

Love & War (Simon Kurts) and Enchantress (John Willoughby), were among the handful of yachts in contention to win the race overall, but in the late stages, stopped to give assistance in the search for light plane that crashed late on Monday near Cape Raoul.

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