Please select your home edition
Edition
Pantaenius - All Risk

Fisher's View- Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3

by Bob Fisher on 20 Aug 2014
Wild Oats XI - Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 Andrea Francolini http://www.afrancolini.com/
Top international yachting correspondent, Bob Fisher, rides for the day aboard the supermaxi Wild Oats XI. To say he was impressed is an understatement.

That perfection in sailing is impossible to achieve has been a universal experience and particularly in 10-knot winds, as we are all aware. At least I was until today, but one race changed all that. This Damascene moment came as a result of an invitation to sail aboard the perpetual line honours winner, the 100-foot supermaxi Wild Oats XI from owner Bob Oatley.

It was produced by a rare combination of factors, not the least the highly experienced crew led by skipper Mark 'Ricko' Richards and an afterguard led by tactician Iain Murray and navigator David Kellett. This combination tackled the running of this constantly improved (over ten years) racing yacht that seems a constant front-runner of the Sydney-Hobart Race with a regular crew that ensures it performs as smoothly as a Rolex watch.

There was almost complete silence throughout the three and a quarter hours we spent on the race among the islands of the Whitsunday groups – not a single shout. Each of the team knows what was expected of them for each of the manoeuvres that were executed and the order in which they had to be done. And Wild Oats XI is a highly complex boat with an array of appendages and water ballast to provide the constantly high speeds.

These were staggering. The boat speed indicator as we beat towards 'Unidentifed Rock' off Pentecost Island was registering 12.36 to 12.54 knots, and when I looked down to check the true wind speed it was 10.1 knots. Of course the sails were perfect and well trimmed, but exceeding the speed of the wind on this point of sail is more usual in multihulls. (Incidentally an AC45 wing-sailed cat was unable to hold us on this 50-minute leg – we beat her by four and a half minutes – nine percent).

We also took a lot of time out of our two well sailed monohull rivals, the 66ft Alive, and Karl Kwok’s TP-52, Beau Geste. The gap to those two widened as we took off on the shy reach to the southern end of Dent Island, on which stands the only west-facing lighthouse on the eastern seaboard of Australia. At first a reaching jib displaced the flatter one used for the beat and then the big asymmetric, pulling like a pack of horses, took our speed to an excess of 15 knots (and still the wind speed was no more than 10.2).

Rounding the south end of Dent Island we ran for the next hour, often looking aft to attempt to discern our two rivals who were becoming entangled with boats from other classes in this 182-boat regatta. Our progress, still without shouted orders was fast and purposeful in the sunshine and we rounded the northernmost turning mark off North Molle with the windward-going sails set after a perfect spinnaker takedown and beat our way to the northern end of Dent Island and the passage towards the finish off Hamilton Island Yacht Club. We had taken three hours and nineteen minutes for the 40-odd mile course and the smiles on our faces were universally broad.

Nothing, we felt, could spoil our day, but the handicapper doesn’t approve of several of the items that make Wild Oats X! – a ten-year old boat – as fast as she is and reversed the finishing order of the three finishers with Beau Geste again the winner from Phillip Turner’s Alive. With glasses in our hands, when we had repaired to the dock, raised to the crews who had triumphed, the broad smiles remained on the faces of the Wild Oats’ crew who felt that nothing should spoil their day.

Please Bob Oatley, let me sail with you again.
navathome 660x82Lancer Inflatables - BJSouthern Spars - 100

Related Articles

Grand Prix Series proposed for 2017 Festival of Sails
2017 Festival of Sails, presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover is getting a remodel with addition of a new Grand Prix Series The 2017 Festival of Sails, presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover, is getting a remodel with the addition of a new Grand Prix Series to open the timetable and a mass Saturday finish of racing preceding a huge closing party for thousands of sailors and their supporters.
Posted today at 2:33 am
Club Marine Pittwater to Southport race replaces Coffs race
The finish of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s signature offshore event is moving to Southport on Queensland GC for 2017 In light of the damage caused to Coffs Harbour marina when a severe east coast low hit the region earlier this month, the finish of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s signature offshore event is moving to Southport on the Queensland Gold Coast for 2017.
Posted today at 2:10 am
Entries Open for 2016/17 CYCA Youth Sailing Academy Regatta Schedule
CYCA, Youth Sailing Academy today announced their upcoming regatta schedule for 2016/17 The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA), Youth Sailing Academy today announced their upcoming regatta schedule for 2016/17 along with an exciting new partnership with Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC).
Posted today at 1:59 am
The Extreme Sailing Series™ heads for Madeira
The Act in Madeira, the 2015 “World’s Leading Island Destination” replaces Istanbul as the Host Venue for Act six. The Act in Madeira, the 2015 “World’s Leading Island Destination” replaces Istanbul as the Host Venue for Act six, originally planned for the same dates and will be run in partnership with Madeira Tourism and the Regional Sailing Association.
Posted on 28 Jun
A Q&A with Simon Parker about the Clipper Race and trans-USA cycling
Sail-World.com talked with Simon Parker to hear about his audacious sailing and cycling adventure with the Clipper Race. Few adventures top crossing oceans, unless one also involves a multi-sport element such as climbing mountains. Simon Parker, a British journalist, raced across the Pacific Ocean with the Clipper Round The World Race, followed by a transcontinental bike ride, before rejoining his mates aboard Garmin for a transatlantic race. Sail-World.com recently caught up with him to learn more.
Posted on 28 Jun
Mixed fortunes for Clipper Race fleet as Atlantic High causes pain
The frontrunners have managed to escape the grasp of the light winds associated with the ridge of the Azores High As the front of the fleet heads north the wind has been building, and the battle for positions is intense at the make or break stage of the race with roughly 1300 nautical miles to go until Derry-Londonderry.
Posted on 28 Jun
Two new teams to make their competitive debuts on the GC32 Racing Tour
For the GC32 Malcesine Cup, taking place as part of Foiling Week, ten GC32 teams will be competing. Japan joins the event in the form of Naofumi Kamei’s Mamma Aiuto! Like Jason Carroll’s Argo team, Mamma Aiuto! comes from the Melges 32 high performance keel boat, where it finished a very respectable third in the class’ last World Championship.
Posted on 28 Jun
18ft skiffs - Kiwis take lead on Day 2 of Mark Foy Worlds in Fiji
Day 2 started in similar conditions but as racing was underway breeze built to a steady 12 knots and swung to the right. The same three boats remain at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the second day in the Fiji Fizz regatta at Denarau, which is hosting the Mark Foy World Championship for the class. However the order has changed, with Yamaha NZ moving into the top spot after the second day of racing.
Posted on 28 Jun
SeaLink Magnetic Race Week - Epic birthday adventure for IRC contender
Leaving a bitterly cold Melbourne to head to the warmth of northern Queensland to celebrate a milestone birthday Leaving a bitterly cold Melbourne to head to the warmth of northern Queensland to celebrate a milestone birthday is turning into an adventure of epic proportions for Daniel Edwards.
Posted on 28 Jun
Ouch!
When the kite’s up, you never look back. Just look at all the videos running around of the wicked Chinese gybes When the kite’s up, you never look back. Just look at all the videos running around of the wicked Chinese gybes that result from even a momentary lapse in concentration on the primary task. Remember, it’s someone else’s job. So grab the helm for second will you? Yours! Cheers.
Posted on 28 Jun