Please select your home edition
Edition
Sail Excchange 728x90 New

SOLAS Big Boat Challenge - Mat Belcher to join Wild Oats XI crew

by Rob Mundle on 9 Dec 2013
Wild Oats XI at full speed while crossing Bass Strait during her record-breaking run in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2012. The new hydrofoil wing will help lift her bow over waves in the 2013 event. Brett Costello/News Ltd © http://www.news.com.au
The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge gets underway on Sydney Harbour tomorrow. Australian Olympic Gold Medalist, and the International Sailing Federation’s World Sailor of the Year, Matt Belcher, will step into a new world tomorrow when he joins the crew of Rolex Sydney Hobart race record holder, Wild Oats XI.

The Big Boat Challenge is a curtain raiser for some of the largest and fastest yachts contesting the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart race, which starts on Boxing Day, December 26.

This year’s Big Boat Challenge will see the first-ever showdown between the two 30-metre long supermaxis which are considered to be the fastest in the world – Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, and Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal. Wild Oats XI will be going for her seventh line honours in the Challenge, and will be hunting for a record-equalling seventh line honours win in the Hobart race. Perpetual Loyal, which has a string of impressive victories in the northern hemisphere to her credit, will be making her racing debut in Australian waters.

'The Solas Big Boat Challenge is an excellent test for the crew as we prepare for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race,' Wild Oats XI skipper, Mark Richards, said today. 'However, regardless of the result, it can’t be considered a guide for the big race to Hobart because they are two very different contests. The good thing is that because of the intense nature of the course inside Sydney Harbour, there will be no room for error tomorrow: the race demands flawless crew work.'

Tomorrow’s event will be a big step-up for Matt Belcher, who in recent years has dominated the world in 4.7 metre long Olympic 470 dinghy class. Last weekend he re-wrote world sailing history when he secured his 17th consecutive major regatta victory in the class. It was crewman Will Ryan’s 10th straight regatta victory.

'It will be great to be aboard Wild Oats XI with some of the best offshore sailors in the world,' Belcher said. 'I’ve never sailed aboard any yacht so large and so fast. The power and speed of Wild Oats XI is amazing. It will be really interesting to see how it all works.'

Despite having been released from hospital just three days ago, Wild Oats XI’s owner, 85-year-old Bob Oatley, plans to be aboard the yacht tomorrow, and his intention is to steer his yacht for much of the race.

'I’m really looking forward to the Big Boat Challenge,' Bob Oatley said. 'We’ve done a lot to the yacht to improve her speed in preparation for the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, so I’m keen to see how she performs.'

After being out of action for two weeks while a fractured section of her new mast was repaired, Wild Oats XI returned to racing last weekend with an impressive line honours victory, and race record time, for the 118 nautical mile Port Hacking – Bird Island race out of Sydney.

The 2013 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge will start off Steele Point, Vaucluse, at 12.30pm tomorrow. The 14 nautical mile course will take the fleet of 14 yachts twice around Sydney Harbour, before finishing off Opera House.
Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearJeanneau Sunfast 660x82Southern Spars - 100

Related Articles

Variety, inclusion and National Sailing League at Kieler Woche
A huge variety, never seen before, inclusion in real life with the Para World Sailing, the first competition of Nacra 15 A huge variety, never seen before, inclusion in real life with the Para World Sailing Championships, the first competition of the Nacra 15, the Eurocup of the junior class 29er, the European Sailing Series of the Melges24, the rendezvous of the classics
Posted today at 5:42 pm
Vendée Globe – Day 79 – Beyou due, Thomson talks of 2020 vision
Jérémie Beyou is expected to cross the finish line of the solo round the world race this evening to take third place Jérémie Beyou is expected to cross the finish line of the solo round the world race this evening to take third place after spending three days slowed by extremely light winds, arriving in Les Sables d'Olonne from the north west.
Posted today at 5:30 pm
Miami World Cup challenge awaits British crews
The 39-strong British cast of both seasoned Olympians and new pairings will be competing against more than 450 sailors The 39-strong British cast of both seasoned Olympians and new pairings will be competing against more than 450 sailors as the 2017 World Cup series kicks off.
Posted today at 4:28 pm
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series closing ceremony
Hundreds of competitors, guests and local dignitaries were treated to a sumptuous banquet at the glitzy Beach House Hundreds of competitors, guests and local dignitaries were treated to a sumptuous banquet at the glitzy Beach House, St James last night to mark the conclusion
Posted today at 3:06 pm
Team Al Mouj sets sights on victory in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour
Team Al Mouj Muscat were the new kids on the block with ambitious plans to spring a surprise, which they duly did Team Al Mouj Muscat were the new kids on the block with ambitious plans to spring a surprise, which they duly did when they finished on the podium in the opening round of the epic two-week quest for honours.
Posted today at 2:28 pm
Alinghi return to defend Extreme Sailing Series™ title
Last year's season-long battle with Oman Air saw the fight go right down to the wire with the Swiss team's victory Last year's season-long battle with arch-rivals Oman Air saw the fight go right down to the wire with the Swiss team's season victory only confirmed in the penultimate race of the final Act, and now the team return for another slice of the action.
Posted today at 1:12 pm
City of Perth Festival of Sail to organise Warren Jones Youth Regatta
The initiative provides an opportunity to spend a morning out on Swan River with experienced successful women sailors The initiative provides an opportunity for participants to spend a morning out on Perth’s Swan River with experienced successful women sailors, learning new team work and leadership skills in order to use these to succeed back in the workplace.
Posted today at 12:23 pm
Jubilee Australian Championship images by Andrea Francolini
More Andrea Francolini magnificence with this set of images from the 2017 Jubilee Australian Championship. More Andrea Francolini magnificence with this set of images from the 2017 Jubilee Australian Championship. The Huntingfield Cup ran from January 21st to 23rd 2017 from the Royal Prince Alfred YC on Pittwater. 15 Jubilees competed, with Charles Weatherly's Scorpion the winner from Stephen Wright's Renaissance and then David Bray's, Wataworrie.
Posted today at 11:29 am
Heating up at the Festival of Sails
Geelong baked on day three and the winds ground to nought then finally to a pumping 20 knots out of the sou’west Geelong baked on day three and the winds ground to nought then finally to a pumping 20 knots out of the sou’west for the late finish of the Rating Series’ medium distance race in outer Corio Bay.
Posted today at 11:20 am
Young and young at heart enjoy the Festival of Sails 2017
From third generation sailors to first timers, the fun and camaraderie on and off the water is attracting the young From third generation sailors to first timers, the fun and camaraderie on and off the water is attracting the young and the young at heart to Geelong’s Festival of Sails presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover.
Posted today at 5:12 am