Crichton christens new Alfa Romeo

The world’s newest super maxi yacht, Sydney-based New Zealander Neville Crichton’s 30-metre (98 feet) Alfa Romeo, hit the water in Sydney Harbour late yesterday, her owner’s sights set firmly on winning line and handicap honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2005.

The striking-looking boat, long and narrow and painted silver with blue stripes, will have its towering 44 metre high rig stepped today or tomorrow, and is expected to have its first sail at the weekend.

The super maxi, already on the register of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, will make its racing debut at the Hahn Premium Race Week at Hamilton Island in late August, representing New Zealand.

It will then be sailed to New Zealand for further sea trials before returning to Sydney to contest the Rolex Trophy and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December.

Alfa Romeo will be one of at least five maximum-sized super maxi yachts expected to contest this year’s race, the others being the yet-to-be-launched Wild Oats, the New Zealand boats Maximus and Konica Minolta and Skandia from Victoria.

The new Alfa Romeo is again a Reichel/Pugh design with a canting keel, main rudder and canard for’ard rudder. It was built by McConaghy Boats in Sydney’s northern beaches suburb of Mona Vale entirely of carbon fibre using the latest technical advances,

The hull and keel were transported by road from Newport to White Bay in Sydney on two low-loaders in the early hours of Monday morning and following the attachment of the keel and rudders, the boat went in the water at 3.00pm yesterday.

Owner Neville Crichton has yet to see his new boat in the water, he is currently on his way to Europe on business.

The launch has thus been low key, but in an exclusive interview with ‘Offshore Yachting’ magazine two weeks ago, the experienced offshore racing yachtsman described his new yacht as ‘a very different boat’ to the all-conquering Alfa Romeo which took line honours in the 2002 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

That Alfa Romeo went on to win all major offshore races on the European circuit including the Fastnet Race, the Giraglia Race and the Middle Sea Race - all sponsored by Rolex.

‘The new boat has a canting keel, a narrower beam and power winches,’ Crichton told ‘Offshore Yachting’, adding: ‘We expect the new boat to be up to two knots faster upwind in a decent breeze than the previous boat; on a reach we could see speeds o 30 to 32 knots as against 25 knots with the previous boat.’

No detailed specifications have been released about the new Alfa Romeo, other than its LOA of 30 metres (98 feet), but the mast is expected to tower 44 metres above the deck whilst the total sail area is understood to be a third bigger than that of the previous 90-foot Alfa Romeo.

Despite the fact that the boat is 98-feet LOA compared with the 90-foot LOA of the previous Alfa Romeo, it is understand that the hull of the new boat is less than a tonne heavier.

Crichton’s Alfa Romeo was the second application to enter for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race received by the CYCA Sailing Office. Another New Zealand boat, the 10.97m Nevenka and West Australian entry, the Lidgard 33 Balance, was the third application to enter received since the notice of race was posted on the official website last week– www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
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