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Stalwarts presence still felt in Syd Hob

AAP logoAAP 25/12/2016 Adrian Warren

Some of the great identities in Sydney to Hobart history will be missing or playing a less prominent role this year, but their presence will still be felt.

The yachting community lost Wild Oats XI owner Bob Oatley and renowned sailer Roger Hickman within two months each other at the start of the year.

Oatley was the financial and driving force behind the majestic superrmaxi which has secured line honours a record eight times.

Hickman took out handicap honours three times in 39 attempts, most recently ln 2014 on the 43-foot Wild Rose, an old Oatley boat.

Former line and handicap honours winner Syd Fischer won't be racing for the first time in many years after doing it 47 times, but will fire the starting cannon on Boxing Day.

"I think it will be strange for myself and a lot of boys who have done a lot of miles with Syd over the last five or six years to be in a Hobart race without Syd," said David Witt, skipper of Scallywag, Fischer's old supermaxi formerly known as Ragamuffin 100.

Many of this year's competitors, some of whom were mentored by Hickman, will also find it strange not to see the much respected and popular yachtsman on the start line.

."I'm really sad he's not there," said media personality Paul Clitheroe, whose boat Balance won handicap honours last year.

"But I know what Roger would be saying 'for Christ sake you lot just go sailing and have a rum', so Roger wouldn't want us to be too melancholy."

Oatley's presence is still felt by the Wild Oats XI team.

"We've always had a fantastic vibe in our team around Bob and his commitment to the sport and us and the boat," skipper Mark Richards said.

"We talk about him every day and it's a really cool thing, so he's definitely there in spirit.'

Bob's grandson Daniel will this year be the first member of the clan to contest the Hobart in Wild Oats XI.

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