Please select your home edition
Edition
Southern Spars - North Technology

Big Boat Challenge - Thoroughbreds display raw power

by Jim Gale on 12 Dec 2012
Wild Oats X, skippered by Troy Tindall, got the overall win - 2012 SOLAS Big Boat Challenge © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
In the SOLAS Big Boats Challenge, Bob Oatley may have to crack two bottles of champagne tonight as his two ocean racing thoroughbreds Wild Oats X and Wild Oats XI shared the silverware from today in the dash around Sydney Harbour that has become the traditional curtain raiser to the Rolex Sydney Hobart.

In a display of raw power and boat speed that has become the signature of Oatley’s 100 foot super maxi and Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours favourite Wild Oats XI, skipper Mark Richards put daylight between himself and second placed Lahana, crossing the line nearly 10 minutes in front.


In a fresh south easterly and in the absence of Ragamuffin–Loyal and Wild Thing, Richards chose to sail well within his boat’s limits, with a reef mainsail, but still lead the fleet around every mark. Richards sailed with his full Hobart crew today and they looked sharp and well-oiled at every turn despite briefly snagging a spinnaker sheet under the bow.

After the race Richards said that the southerly winds and sloppy chop had made for a surprisingly testing day. 'It was a lot of work. The boat was flying around the race track and didn’t give us much time to set up for sail changes and stuff. Ropes were going everywhere.

'The best thing for us is we got around unscathed, with all fingers and toes. It was a good workout.'

But it was Wild Oats XI’s baby sister, the similarly canting keeled RP66 Wild Oats X that stole the show. 18 foot skiff sailor Troy Tindall had thrown together a crew of his Double Bay mates for the race and they turned on a blinder.


'We sailed together for half an hour yesterday and before the start (today) there were some pretty nervous moments,' Tindall conceded, 'but we got a really good start and took off from there.'

The skiffies trailed the two big boats across the line of course, but were close enough to take a four minute lead on corrected time on Lahana, and nearly four and a half minutes on Wild Oats XI to win the race outright on IRC.

If Wild Oats X was smoking, so was her RP66 sistership Black Jack. Just boat lengths separated the two boats. At times they looked more like speedboats than sailboats with spray from their fine bows arcing back past the foredeck as they sliced through the choppy harbour.

Black Jack, though, paid for a poor start. The lost minutes at the beginning cost her second place on handicap to 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner Loki, despite Loki shredding a spinnaker on the first downwind leg. A costly day out for owner Stephen Ainsworth.


Ainsworth was pretty laconic about the sail after the race, 'we were going to bring it down anyway,' and will draw some consolation from his second place finish, but he knows that if he wants to make it two wins in a row in the big race he will have to hang onto Black Jack all the way to Hobart.

On today’s evidence Black Jack has a big edge over Loki in pure boat speed, but with her canting keel and extra three feet over the conventionally keeled RP63 Loki she gives away time on handicap. Both are no doubt pleased Wild Oats X and her skiff sailors are staying home, but the battle between Loki and Black Jack will be a highlight of this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart.

With neither Ragamuffin-Loyal nor the revamped Wild Thing on the racetrack, today gave little guidance on the race for line honours come Boxing Day.

Richards is clearly pleased with the speed he is getting out of Wild Oats XI, and as Lahana’s owner Peter Millard conceded after the race, in drag racing terms 'Wild Oats XI is a generation apart. We realise we are a bubbling V8 against a V12.'

The Rolex Sydney Hobart can be a drag race for the front running boats, but not always. If not, Millard will be hoping that his tactician, Gavin Brady, newly returned to Lahana after campaigning internationally on a number of maxis in recent years, will find a way round the faster boat.

'The boat is faster than it was,' Brady says, 'the changes have improved the boat’s performance and structure.'

Lahana will probably need Ragamuffin-Loyal or Wild Thing to put pressure on Wild Oats XI, perhaps forcing an error or at least allowing the New Zealanders to race their own race in different water.

It’s a long way to Hobart and a lot more unexpected things can happen in 628 miles than in the high speed dahs around Sydney Harbour today.

Ancasta Ker 33 660x82Mackay BoatsZhik Yachting 660x82

Related Articles

Variety, inclusion and National Sailing League at Kieler Woche
A huge variety, never seen before, inclusion in real life with the Para World Sailing, the first competition of Nacra 15 A huge variety, never seen before, inclusion in real life with the Para World Sailing Championships, the first competition of the Nacra 15, the Eurocup of the junior class 29er, the European Sailing Series of the Melges24, the rendezvous of the classics
Posted today at 5:42 pm
Vendée Globe – Day 79 – Beyou due, Thomson talks of 2020 vision
Jérémie Beyou is expected to cross the finish line of the solo round the world race this evening to take third place Jérémie Beyou is expected to cross the finish line of the solo round the world race this evening to take third place after spending three days slowed by extremely light winds, arriving in Les Sables d'Olonne from the north west.
Posted today at 5:30 pm
Miami World Cup challenge awaits British crews
The 39-strong British cast of both seasoned Olympians and new pairings will be competing against more than 450 sailors The 39-strong British cast of both seasoned Olympians and new pairings will be competing against more than 450 sailors as the 2017 World Cup series kicks off.
Posted today at 4:28 pm
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series closing ceremony
Hundreds of competitors, guests and local dignitaries were treated to a sumptuous banquet at the glitzy Beach House Hundreds of competitors, guests and local dignitaries were treated to a sumptuous banquet at the glitzy Beach House, St James last night to mark the conclusion
Posted today at 3:06 pm
Team Al Mouj sets sights on victory in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour
Team Al Mouj Muscat were the new kids on the block with ambitious plans to spring a surprise, which they duly did Team Al Mouj Muscat were the new kids on the block with ambitious plans to spring a surprise, which they duly did when they finished on the podium in the opening round of the epic two-week quest for honours.
Posted today at 2:28 pm
Alinghi return to defend Extreme Sailing Series™ title
Last year's season-long battle with Oman Air saw the fight go right down to the wire with the Swiss team's victory Last year's season-long battle with arch-rivals Oman Air saw the fight go right down to the wire with the Swiss team's season victory only confirmed in the penultimate race of the final Act, and now the team return for another slice of the action.
Posted today at 1:12 pm
World Sailing News - February 2017 and December 2016
Catch the latest World Sailing month video magazine - February 2017 edition Catch the latest World Sailing month video magazine - February 2017 edition is just out featuring a wrap-up of the main sailing events of the December-January period including Thomas Coville’s new world record; the 2016 AON Youth Worlds; Rolex Sydney Hobart, Vendee Globe updates and a spectacular 49er crash while training in 27kts plus and big seas.
Posted today at 3:07 am
You spin me right round
Vinyl records went the way of the dodo with first CDs, and then now with the likes of MP3 and streaming. Vinyl records went the way of the dodo with first CDs, and then now with the likes of MP3 and streaming. Recently, we have had unbelievable records set by Thomas Coville and then Armel Le Cléac’h. Soon (with over 1200nm in the bank as it were), it would seem to be the turn of the crew on board IDEC Sport for a record after their spin right round, as well. This is quite simply, terrific stuff.
Posted today at 12:56 am
Jules Verne Trophy – IDEC Sport expected in Brest on Thursday
The last few hours in the trade winds acted as a reminder that IDEC Sport needs to be tamed at times. The last few hours in the trade winds acted as a reminder that IDEC Sport needs to be tamed at times to avoid taking risks and suffering damage.
Posted on 22 Jan
Vendée Globe – Slow home run for Beyou
The quiet, still weather and pleasant winter sunshine has brought out huge Sunday crowds to the race village. The quiet, still weather and pleasant winter sunshine has brought out huge Sunday crowds to the race village pontoons at Port Olona, Les Sables d’Olonne.
Posted on 22 Jan