Assa Abloy takes Hobart finish

Neal McDonald first home in close finish

Saturday December 29th 2001, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: United Kingdom

Make no mistake, Line Honours is the prize to win in the Sydney-Hobart Race. There may be IMS prizes and IRC prizes, but the focus of media attention in Australia and around the world is on the first boat home. Its simple, the public can understand, and when the main news channel on the TV in Sydney says "we are now going live to the Hobart to see the finish of the Sydney Hobart race" everyone knows what is happening.

So all credit to Neal McDonald and the Assa Abloy crew. Not only were they first home but they beat boats 20 feet longer. Though beating Nicorette by just 15 minutes, the point was made; the current generation of V.O.60 are very potent machines in all conditions.

Assa Abloy led the race fleet leaders across a tranquil Storm Bay in which yachts were jockeying for what little breeze was about on the notoriously rough stretch of water leading to the Derwent River.

McDonald described the situation at the head of the fleet near Cape Raoul in Storm Bay as intense at Cape Raoul. "We stayed offshore and it turned out to be a good move".

McDonald had Assa Abloy around the Iron Pot at the entrance to the Derwent at 8.10 am, 12 minutes ahead of Nicorette, with Amer Sports One six minutes further back to begin a tacking duel to the finish.

Behind them were four Volvo 60s - Tyco, which rounded at 8.30 am, Team News Corp at 8.32 am, Djuice at 8.44 am and illbruck at 8.46 am.

All had a chance at line honours as breezes filled in on the Derwent River, with north to northeasterly winds of five to 10 knots, setting up the race to the finish as boats sought the strongest winds, beating up the river.

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