A toast to Robert Oatley

A toast to Robert Oatley
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Over the last decade we've all talked over a bottle or two of red that Australia has the sailors to win the America's Cup and the Oatley family had the money.

Now Bob and Sandy have, almost when we least expected it, given Australian sailing the key Challenger of Record role ahead of the 35th America's Cup.

In 1968, the largest coffee trader in Papua New Guinea sold up and move to Mudgee, in the central state wine growing region, to found the Rosemount Estate winery.

Robert Oakley Wines
Robert Oatley Vineyards

Growing steadily, the Oatley’s Rosemount won lots of awards and gained a large following.

Then in 1982 NSW Premier Neville Wran announced that he's made a decision to terminate his Political career. Asked exactly how and when he had made this important decision, he said the previous evening half way thru a bottle of Rosemount Gold medal Chardonnay.

At that moment, the value of the Oatley families Rosemount Winery went through the roof,

Choosing the perfect time to tack, the Oatley's sold to Southcorp in 2001, consolidating their gain and then sold their residual share in 2005, again on the right side of a significant wind shift. All in all $1.5 billion dollars headed into the Oatley's bank accounts.

Hamilton Island from the Air
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Meanwhile in 2003 a quiet little drink at the end of Hamilton Race Week had prompted the family into buying Hamilton Island, home to the largest ‘offshore’ regatta in the Southern Hemisphere.

Bob Oatley and Jimmy Spithill with The Cup Hamilton Island Race Week 2011
Jeni Bone

In 2011 the Oatley's through Hamilton Island Yacht Club Commodore Iain Murray, the Regatta director for the 34th America's Cup, invited Golden Gate Club Yacht Club vice Commodore Tom Erhman to come to race week, bring the Auld Mug with him. Jimmy Spithill came for the party too.

SAILING - Audi Hamilton Island Race week 2013 - Hamilton Island, Queensland (AUS) 17-24/08/2013 ph. Andrea Francolini/AUDI WILD OATS XI

Oatley's super-maxi yacht Wild Oats XI has taken line honours in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race six times, and is set for another crack in December.

Now in 2013-2014 the Oatley’s have the opportunity to put their stamp on the 35th Cup as the Challengers of Record.

Later on we, and thousands of other Australian sailors, will give you free advice on reconfiguring the America’s Cup – right now we just want to raise a toast... to Robert Oatley.