Please select your home edition
Edition
Festival of Sails 2017

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.
Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82navathome 660x82Henri Lloyd 50 Years

Related Articles

Olympic Gold medalist and Volvo Ocean Race winner up for WS Board
Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing Torben Grael (BRA) is amongst the 15 nominations for one of seven places on the Board of Directors of World Sailing in November. The five times Olympic medalist, Volvo Ocean Race winner and several times America's Cup competitor will bring a much needed sailing edge to the Board of World Sailing if he can navigate the politics of the controlling body of the sport.
Posted today at 6:03 pm
Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge - Images from Régates Royales
The final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is underway at Cannes in the 38th Régates Royales. The final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is underway at Cannes in the 38th Régates Royales with classic yachts and Dragons. Eugenia Bakunova of mainsail.ru was on the water at Cannes and provided this gallery of images from the penultimate day of the regatta.
Posted today at 11:12 am
Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge - More images from Régates Royales
Second gallery from the final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge at Cannes The 38th Régates Royales, the final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is underway at Cannes. Eugenia Bakunova of mainsail.ru was on the water at Cannes and provided this second gallery of images from the penultimate day.
Posted today at 10:56 am
Swiss stars Alinghi lose mast in collision in action-packed day
The Extreme Sailing Series™ lived up to its name on the penultimate day of Act 6 in Madeira The Extreme Sailing Series™ lived up to its name on the penultimate day of Act 6 in Madeira as a collision between rivals Alinghi and Red Bull Sailing Team resulted in the Swiss crew losing their mast.
Posted today at 3:23 am
Oman Air in peak form going into final day at Extreme Sailing Series
A fresher breeze on the third day gave the GC32 fleet a chance to give the spectators an invigorating show of action A fresher breeze on the third day gave the GC32 fleet a chance to give the spectators lining the shores on the south coast of the island an invigorating show of speed and action and it was Oman Air that led the way with seven podium places – including two outright wins – in seven races.
Posted on 24 Sep
Perfect birthday for Sébastien at GC32 La Reserva de Sotogrande Cup
The westerly Levante breeze was expected to blow at about 10 to 11 knots for day three of the regatta The westerly Levante breeze was expected to blow at about 10 to 11 knots for day three of the regatta, but the long white cloud hanging over the Rock of Gibraltar signified that there might be less. Even with just five or six knots the GC32s were still able to get on the foils as they launched off the start line of the first race.
Posted on 24 Sep
Extreme Sailing Series – Red Bull Sailing Team collides with Alinghi
At 1515 BST today during race eight, Red Bull Sailing Team collided with Alinghi, resulting in Alinghi losing its mast. At 1515 BST today during race eight of the series in the Madeira Islands, Red Bull Sailing Team collided with Alinghi, resulting in Alinghi losing its mast.
Posted on 24 Sep
Ginger’s early lead at MC38 Spring Regatta
Maserati is running second and John Bacon’s Dark Star third and both will carry costly seven and nine point respectively An hour and a half delay due to insufficient breeze eventually transitioned to an 8-9 knot easterly and consecutive starts were run off Garden Island’s naval base on the harbour’s southern shoreline.
Posted on 24 Sep
Sailing World Cup - Qingdao chances shorten as top tens confirmed
It was all about a place in the Medal Race on day four of the SWC Qingdao as top ten were confirmed in all seven fleets. It was all about a place in the Medal Race on day four of the Sailing World Cup Qingdao as the top ten were confirmed in all seven fleets.
Posted on 24 Sep
Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge - More images from Régates Royales
Second gallery from the final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge at Cannes The 38th Régates Royales, the final round of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge is underway at Cannes. Eugenia Bakunova of mainsail.ru was on the water at Cannes and provided this second gallery of images.
Posted on 24 Sep