King of the Derwent now?  You probably thought the only article we would publish about sailing would be the annual Sydney to Hobart recount.  That would normally be true; we are certainly no sailing experts here at Think Tasmania.  But when you see Wild Oats XI powering down the Derwent River, you take notice.  And some of us also take photos… and video, even!!

King of the Derwent: Sailing in Hobart

Each year on January 2nd, while patrons are still enjoying the Taste Festival at Princes Wharf, the Derwent Sailing Squadron conduct the King of the Derwent, an iconic event on the Tasmanian sporting calendar.  The aim is to attract some of the yachts arriving in Hobart from the races started in Launceston, Melbourne and of course, Sydney.

King of the Derwent - Wild Oats XI
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Wild Oats XI puts on an impressive display in the King of the Derwent

The King of the Derwent has been staged since 1978, but everyone in the local sailing fraternity was excited to have Wild Oats XI enter in 2012.  Having won line honours in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race five times, the current race record holder is a legend of Australian yachting.

Skipper: Wild Oats XI

Mark Richards, the boat’s ocean-racing skipper, was still in Hobart following the Rolex Sydney Hobart event, but it was Bob Oatley in charge this time.  The 83-year-old owner was at the helm for the 14 nautical miles of the King of the Derwent.  Another 50 yachts entered the race, with many more spectator craft accompanying the super maxi as it surged around the course.  The crowd on the headland also enjoyed the display.

King of the Derwent - Sailing in Hobart
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Sailing in Hobart on the 2nd of January: Wild Oats XI in the King of the Derwent

And as you might expect, against boats less than half her size, Wild Oats XI dominated the race.  The professional crew completed the course in just 1 hour and 9 minutes.  And while it was definitely an awesome display to watch, the super-maxi actually finished last on corrected time!!


Investec Loyal, another 100-footer, took line honours in both the King of the Derwent and the Sydney to Hobart in 2011.  Maybe Bob Oatley and Mark Richards are looking to replicate that double in 2012.

For more information about the King of the Derwent
visit the Derwent Sailing Squadron website.

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Map: King of the Derwent, Hobart Tasmania