Watching Wild Oats XI sail up the River Derwent this morning was to learn something of where sail technology and design is going. Wild Oats XI's much vaunted new Code Zero - sometimes called the R1 - demonstrates what apparent wind yachts can achieve with asymmetrical sails.
The big Code Zero about to come down. - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Wild Oats XI was reaching up river from the Iron Pot in strong westerlies; as she passed South Arm the breeze shifted left, the Code Zero came down and up went the conventional in line headsail.
Predicting another shift as the yacht neared the finish line, the crew re-hoisted the RI and the unusual sight of an asymmetrical being tacked upwind in light breeze was quite a strange sight for those like the writer rather less in the know.
A chat with Volvo round the world sailor Stuart Bannatyne, when Wild Oats XI had berthed, revealed that this new sail is incredibly versatile, covering angles from upwind in light breezes to well past the beam when the pressure's up. It was in action on quite a number of occasions during the race.
Here are some more images of Wild Oats XI - including her sporting the new RI upwind - shot by Dale and Crosbie Lorimer.
Headsail down, Code Zero back up - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Time Wiseman, bowman on Wild Oats XI keeps a low profile - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Tacking with the new RI set - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Volvo sailor Stuart Bannatyne described last night’s sailing as tough with a difficult sea. Wild Oats blew out the tack on one of her spinnakers when she buried the bow. - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Tom Addis signs the Wild Oats XI crew hat - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Bob Oatley and Mark Richards answer the media's questions - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Mark Richards dives back into the dock to retrieve his lost cap, which came off when he was thrown in by his fellow crew. - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Wild Oats XI is greeted by a large crowd as she arrives early morning. - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2012
Co-navigator Adrienne Cahalan - Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2012
Stuart Bannatyne - Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2012
Wild Oats crew enjoying the moment - Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2012