Please select your home edition
Edition
InSunSport - NZ

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 - Wild Oats XI banks on long preparation

by Rob Mundle on 23 Dec 2012
XI, WILD OATS XI, Sail No: 10001, Owner: Mark Richards, Design: Reichel/Pugh 30 Mtr, LOA (m): 30.5, State: NSW Rolex Sydney Hobart
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 will be the culmination of a nine-month programme for the designers and crew of Wild Oats XI in their attempt to make history in Australia’s premier offshore ocean racing classic.

In that time she has also set impressive course record times in the Sydney-Gold Coast race, and the recent Cabbage Tree Island race, and been put to the test at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

It has been an enormous effort for just one reason: the pursuit of line honours in this year’s Hobart race.
Wild Oats XI’s 84-year-old owner, Bob Oatley, is a highly experienced campaigner who knows the importance of perfect preparation. Unfortunately a medical condition prevents him from being aboard for such an arduous race, but everything he does to ready the 30-metre long supermaxi for the contest is done as though he is going to be sailing.

This year Wild Oats XI is going for a record sixth line honours in eight starts in the 628-nautical-mile race. Last year Oatley watched with a high level of frustration when Investec Loyal claimed line honours by just over three minutes from Wild Oats XI; and while he saluted the winners and thanked his crew for their admirable effort he already knew what needed to be done to make his yacht faster: changes had to be made to improve her speed in light winds.



After considerable design analysis, both in the water and out, Wild Oats XI was taken from the water for four months and disassembled so everything could be checked, and modifications made. The major changes were the addition of a retractable fin near the bow, and drag-reducing winglets fitted to the 12-tonne lead keel bulb. These were designed at a Boeing facility in America.

Crewman John Hildebrand, who is also the yacht’s Shore Manager, supervised proceedings. While the modifications were being made to the hull, Wild oats XI’s ultra-light C6 carbon fibre rigging was removed from the mast and shipped to America for checking, just to ensure it had no flaws; all winches were disassembled and serviced, and every part of the canting keel system was overhauled.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed]

The knife-like, heat-treated high-tensile steel keel fin was sent away for ultrasound and x-ray checks to make sure there were no signs faults in the metal, and the hydraulic ram system which swings the keel from one side to the other when the yacht tacks, was overhauled. This ram is so powerful it is capable of lifting a Boeing 747 jumbo jet off the ground.

Now, when Wild Oats XI starts in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race at 1pm on Boxing Day, skipper Mark Richards and his 18 crew will know that the yacht could not be better prepared for what is reputedly one of the world’s toughest ocean racing challenges. From that point it will be up to the crew to get the yacht to Hobart ahead of the fleet. Even so, the crew knows an element of luck won’t go astray – like favourable wind shifts and avoiding semi-submerged objects.

The latest weather forecast from yachting meteorologist Roger Badham indicates that during the past 24 hours the weather pendulum has swung more in favour of a race record time for the line honours yacht this year. On current projections Wild Oats XI could be entering Bass Strait as early as 6am on Thursday and hold record breaking pace from there to the finish, however much will depend on the timing of a southerly change which will sweep across Tasmania late Thursday or early Friday.

Wild Oats XI will be assisted by a highly experienced crew. The youngest crew member is 33-year-old round the world sailor Scott Beavis. Cockpit-hand Steve Jarvin will be going for an unprecedented 11th line honours win while co-navigator – and mother of two – Adrienne Cahalan will be making her 21st start in the classic – a record for any female competitor.

Related Articles

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
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
Laser Radial Worlds - Kiwis locked in Olympic selection fight - Day 2
The points gap has narrowed between the two elading New Zealand contenders for 2016 Olympic selection The points gap has narrowed between the two lading New Zealand contenders for 2016 Olympic selection in the Womens Singlehanded Laser Radial class.
Posted on 16 Apr
Laser Radial Worlds - Winther off to a handy start in light airs
Sara Winther has got away to a handy start to the 2016 Laser Radial Worlds, being sailed in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. Sara Winther has got away to a handy start to the 2016 Laser Radial Worlds, being sailed in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. She is best placed of the three New Zealand competitors in the regatta, lying in 22nd overall after two races were sailing the Qualifying Round.
Posted on 15 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Pantaenius - Fixed ValueBarz Optics - Melanin LensesThe Water Shed - 5