Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Rolex Sydney to Hobart - Wild Oats XI crew encouraged by final trial

by Rob Mundle on 22 Dec 2013
On the pace: Rolex Sydney Hobart Race record holder, Wild Oats XI, shows an impressive turn of speed in Bass Strait. - Rolex Sydney to Hobart 2013 © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.net
For this week’s Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race while the weather outlook is ‘messy’, according to yachting meteorologist Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham, the skipper of Bob Oatley’s race record holder – the 100ft supermaxi, Wild Oats XI – couldn’t be happier on two fronts.

Mark ‘Ricko’ Richards, who has skippered the sleek silver sloop in all eight of her Hobart race starts, likes what he sees in Badham’s current forecast for the 628-nautical-mile race, which starts on Boxing Day. And, bringing added pleasure to preparations is the knowledge that Wild Oats XI’s final pre-race hit-out confirmed she is sailing faster than ever.

'That doesn’t necessarily mean we will be first to Hobart,' Richards was quick to point out. 'We know all too well that there’s an element of luck needed in this race, especially when it comes to the weather. But, it is good to know that Wild Oats XI is fast.

'When you go into a Hobart race you need the best possible ammunition, and I think we have got it. The new mast is making a big difference to our speed, and we also now know that when the new hydrofoil wing is deployed and comes into its zone it improves our downwind speed.

Richards confirmed that the new low-windage mast, which is 200 kilos lighter and considerably stiffer than the one it replaced, has contributed significantly to the improvement in speed. For example, Wild Oats XI is now sailing two knots faster upwind than when she was launched in 2005 – a considerable gain for any yacht this size.

The yacht is the most successful in the 69-year history of the classic, having scored six line honours, two victories on handicap and two race record times.

Wild Oats XI’s final pre-race trial was staged over four hours yesterday in a 20-30 knot southerly wind and lumpy seas off Sydney Heads. New sails were tested and many of the manoeuvres the crew can expect to be confronted by during the race were executed.

With the yacht now 100 per cent ready, the principal members of the highly talented afterguard are concentrating on the race weather forecast. This group includes Richards, tactician Iain Murray, strategist Ian ‘Fresh’ Burns, and navigator Tom Addis. Both Murray and Burns have just returned from San Francisco where they played prominent roles in the America’s Cup regatta.

Badham’s current forecast sees him saying: 'The closer we get [to the start], the more detail is added and more complex and messy the weather pattern looks over Bass Strait and the Tasmanian coast on Day 2 and Day 3.' He is not, however, discounting the chance that the first yacht home could finish inside the race record time of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds set by Wild Oats XI last year.

'The forecast we are seeing now will suit us, but the race is going to be unbelievably tricky tactically – a huge mental challenge,' Richards said. 'There is every chance that the leading group will compress on at least one occasion.'

Wild Oats XI’s crew is well mindful of what can happen in such conditions. In the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race they held a comfortable lead approaching Tasman Island, 44 miles from the finish. Then the wind evaporated and they stopped. This provided the opportunity for the crew of Investec Loyal (Anthony Bell) to plot a course that saw them sail past the leader and claim line honours by just three minutes and 12 seconds.

It was a disappointing loss for the Wild Oats XI team, one that drove home an important point to all competitors: if, in a perfect world, Wild Oats XI had been just one second a mile faster from start to finish, she could have been first to finish.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart race starts on Sydney Harbour at 1pm on Boxing Day.

Related Articles

Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Will NZ's most successful Olympic Sailing event cop the Selection axe?
New Zealand qualified in all ten of the 2016 Olympic events at the first round of Qualifying in Santander Spain New Zealand qualified in all ten of the 2016 Olympic events at the first round of Qualifying in Santander Spain in September 2014. In two of those the RS:X Windsurfing event, New Zealand is unlikely to be represented in the Men's event, and in the Women's event, Natalia Kosinska would appear to be a borderline selection.
Posted on 2 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
Kosinska to hit out against the Hyeres heavy metal in 2016 Olympic bid
Natalia Kosinska (NZL) will face a star-studded field in the Womens RS:X event at Hyeres later this week. 2016 Olympic aspirant, Natalia Kosinska (NZL) will face a star-studded field in the Womens RS:X event at the third round of the Sailing World Cup Hyeres.
Posted on 26 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
Rio2016 - Winther hits ball firmly into Olympic selectors' court
2012 Olympic representative, Sara Winther has made a strong bid for inclusion in the 2016 NZ Olympic Sailing Team 2012 Olympic representative, Sara Winther has made a strong bid for inclusion in the 2016 NZ Olympic Sailing Team finishing 11th in the 2016 Laser Radial World Championships in Mexico. Running a self-funded campaign which took in the Princesca Sofia Regatta in Palma, Spain followed by the World Championship on Banderas Bay, Mexico, Winther placed 11th overall and 10th country.
Posted on 21 Apr
Thou doth protest too much, me thinks
And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen And no, we’re not off to analyse Hamlet right away. There’ll be no surtitles popping up on the top of your screen about now. At any rate, it is simply an adaptation of Lady Gertrude’s original line. We merely seek to use it as a way to demonstrate that when there is a lot of brouhaha going on, the smoke screen ultimately ends up as a lovely, colourful flag as to the real intent behind it.
Posted on 18 Apr
Sailing World Cup Hyeres - Kosinska flies out in RS-X Olympic bid
Women's RS:X Windsurfer sailor, Natalia Kosinska (NZL) flew out of Auckland today for the Sailing World Cup Hyeres Women's RS:X Windsurfer sailor, Natalia Kosinska (NZL) flew out of Auckland today for the Sailing World Cup Hyeres, in her final attempt to gain NZ Olympic selection. Kosinska has been training in her own program in New Zealand with the 2015 Women's World Champion, Chen Peina (CHN) in the RS:X Windsurfer, and Zhichao Zhang the Men's #4 at the 2015 Worlds in Oman
Posted on 18 Apr
Laser Radial Worlds - Winther makes top three in final Qualifying race
2012 Olympic Representative, Sara Winther continues to improve at the 2016 Laser Radial Worlds 2012 Olympic Representative, Sara Winther continues to improve at the 2016 Laser Radial Worlds and has moved up the leaderboard to be in 12th place at the end of the shortened Qualifying Round. She placed third in the only race sailed today and continues to improve as the regatta progresses, and her confidence builds.
Posted on 18 Apr
Laser Radial Worlds - Winther scores three single digit places - Day 3
New Zealand 2012 Olympic representative, Sara Winther has advanced three places up the points table New Zealand 2012 Olympic representative, Sara Winther has advanced three places up the points table at the 2016 Laser radial Worlds being sailed in Mexico. She now lies in 15th place overall after three days of racing. She achieved single digit scores in the three races sailed today, despite hitting marks in two races and having to perform penalty turns.
Posted on 17 Apr
Sailutions - FurlexBakewell-White Yacht DesignNaiad/Oracle Supplier