Please select your home edition
Edition
Helm Events 728x90

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.

Zhik Yachting 660x82Helm Events 660x82Mackay Boats

Related Articles

RORC Transatlantic Race – Day 14 – Aragon watches the clock
Aragon crew are a blend of family, friends and professional sailors and the youngest sailor was at the helm of Aragon. The crew of Aragon are a blend of family, friends and professional sailors and the youngest sailor, Anna Van Nieuwland was at the helm of Aragon as the team crossed the line.
Posted today at 3:03 pm
52 Super Series – Great strides towards sustainability
The 2016 season represents the second complete year in partnership with sustainability sponsor 11th Hour Racing. The 2016 season represents the second complete year in partnership with sustainability sponsor 11th Hour Racing.
Posted today at 12:24 pm
Strong winds continue on Day 4 of Sailing World Cup Melbourne
Matt Wearn enjoyed the strong winds today, winning both races in the Laser fleet. Wearn is currently leading overall. Matt Wearn enjoyed the strong winds today, winning both races in the Laser fleet. Wearn is currently leading overall, three points ahead of Cypriot Pavlos Kontides. Rio Silver medallist, Tonci Stipanovic finished second in both today’s races and is currently lying third overall, while Australia’s Tom Burton is in fourth overall. Burton scored a 12 and a five in today’s two races.
Posted today at 12:02 pm
Extreme Sailing Series – Oman Air close gap on Alinghi
Oman Air took every opportunity today and cornered the podium to close the gap at the top of the Act eight leaderboard. Team Oman Air took every opportunity on the Sydney Harbour race course today and cornered the podium to close the gap at the top of the Act eight leaderboard as the rivalry with Alinghi intensifies.
Posted today at 11:09 am
SWC Final – Badloe and Squires pick up where their countrymen left off
Badloe holds the lead after nine races and Squires pushed himself into contention after two bullets and a second. Badloe holds the lead in the men's windsurfer after nine races and Squires pushed himself into contention after two bullets and a second. The pair, and the sailors across the ten Olympic and Open Kiteboarding fleets battled against a south westerly wind in excess of 20 knots coupled with a big sea state.
Posted today at 10:38 am
ESS Sydney - second day images from Beth Morley
The Open Water session due for 4pm to 6pm today but it was cancelled due to the wind Beth Morley was back out on the water to capture the second day of Act Eight of the Extreme Sailing Series. An Open Water session was due for 4pm to 6pm today but it was cancelled due to the wind, so these are from the Stadium race. Enjoy!
Posted today at 10:09 am
Alinghi and Oman Air neck and neck at Extreme Sailing Series finale
Swiss crew Alinghi remain in pole position after two days of breathtaking action on the iconic waters of Sydney Harbour. Swiss crew Alinghi remain in pole position after two days of breathtaking action on the iconic waters of Sydney Harbour, but it couldn't be tighter at the top as the battle between the two Series frontrunners intensifies.
Posted today at 10:08 am
Tom Squires 'dab's' while skydiving at Sailing World Cup - Melbourne
Tom Squires from the British Sailing Team is in Melbourne jumped out of a plane as part of the event earlier this week. Tom Squires from the British Sailing Team is in Melbourne for the Sailing World Cup Final sailing on the RS:X jumped out of a plane as part of the event earlier this week. He took the opportunity to do his first 'dab' and managed to hurt his shoulder.
Posted today at 7:25 am
Vendee Globe - Dealer's choice - Antipodean duel in stormy low
Armel Le Cleac’h and Alex Thomson have throttled back to preserve their boats and equipment as best they can Gusty, squally winds averaging 40kts, big, confused seas compounded by an awkward wind angle are all contributing to the worst period yet for two leaders of the Vendee Globe as they deal with a nasty, messy low pressure system. Armel Le Cleac’h and Alex Thomson have throttled back to preserve their boats and equipment as best they can but even so speeds are still averaging between 18 and 20 kts.
Posted today at 6:11 am
Vendee Globe - Conrad Colman - 'It’s emotional and shocking'
Conrad Colman has shown in this race that he is not merely able to deal with the technical problems thrown at him Conrad Colman, currently in twelfth place directly south of Madagascar, has shown in this race that he is not merely able to deal with the technical problems thrown at him, but he has also revealed his ability to communicate how he feels and what life is like aboard an IMOCA with all its ups and downs. Here is his reaction to the recent incidents in the race.
Posted today at 5:24 am