Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Intense inspection begins for Wild Oats XI

Hunting them down. Bob Oatley’s supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, chases the kiwi yacht, Giacomo, in the CYCA Trophy Series on Sydney Harbour yesterday. Wild Oats XI was first to finish.
Andrea Francolini
The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race 2013 starts at 1pm on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day. In keeping with the adage ‘to finish first you must first finish’, the shore crew of Rolex Sydney Hobart Race record holder, Bob Oatley’s supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, today began an intense four-day inspection of the yacht and its new, lightweight carbon fibre mast.

The 45-metre high mast – which barely gets under Sydney Harbour Bridge when it is in place aboard the yacht – was deftly lifted from Wild Oats XI by a huge mobile crane this morning then lowered onto special cradles on shore at Woolwich Dock, on Sydney Harbour.

Crewmen and rigging specialists then began removing all rigging and fittings from the long, and hollow black mast so every item could be thoroughly inspected for wear and tear.

'This Hobart race is about endurance as well as speed', said the yacht’s skipper, Mark Richards. 'It is just as important to make sure the yacht is ready as it is to have the crew at their peak.'

Tomorrow it will be Wild Oats XI’s turn for an extensive going over. The 30-metre long hull will be lifted from the water at 7am and put ashore at the same dock so it can be inspected from bow to stern. The hull will also get a final polish.

Once out of the water the yacht’s radical new hydrofoil wing – which has been fitted to increase downwind speed in strong winds – will also be revealed.

Mark Richards also confirmed today that a special new sail, designated as an R1, had been added to Wild Oats XI’s sail inventory for the Hobart race. Made from the latest high-tech fabric, it has been designed to provide maximum speed when reaching – sailing across the wind. It measures an impressive 670 square metres, but even so, it is still a lot smaller than the yacht’s largest sail: a downwind sail that is a whopping 940 square metres – more than the area of four tennis courts!
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