Please select your home edition
Edition
Fever-Tree 728x90

Fisher's View- Sailing perfection at Hamilton Island- Day 3

by Bob Fisher on 20 Aug 2014
Wild Oats XI - Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2014 Andrea Francolini http://www.afrancolini.com/
Top international yachting correspondent, Bob Fisher, rides for the day aboard the supermaxi Wild Oats XI. To say he was impressed is an understatement.

That perfection in sailing is impossible to achieve has been a universal experience and particularly in 10-knot winds, as we are all aware. At least I was until today, but one race changed all that. This Damascene moment came as a result of an invitation to sail aboard the perpetual line honours winner, the 100-foot supermaxi Wild Oats XI from owner Bob Oatley.

It was produced by a rare combination of factors, not the least the highly experienced crew led by skipper Mark 'Ricko' Richards and an afterguard led by tactician Iain Murray and navigator David Kellett. This combination tackled the running of this constantly improved (over ten years) racing yacht that seems a constant front-runner of the Sydney-Hobart Race with a regular crew that ensures it performs as smoothly as a Rolex watch.

There was almost complete silence throughout the three and a quarter hours we spent on the race among the islands of the Whitsunday groups – not a single shout. Each of the team knows what was expected of them for each of the manoeuvres that were executed and the order in which they had to be done. And Wild Oats XI is a highly complex boat with an array of appendages and water ballast to provide the constantly high speeds.

These were staggering. The boat speed indicator as we beat towards 'Unidentifed Rock' off Pentecost Island was registering 12.36 to 12.54 knots, and when I looked down to check the true wind speed it was 10.1 knots. Of course the sails were perfect and well trimmed, but exceeding the speed of the wind on this point of sail is more usual in multihulls. (Incidentally an AC45 wing-sailed cat was unable to hold us on this 50-minute leg – we beat her by four and a half minutes – nine percent).

We also took a lot of time out of our two well sailed monohull rivals, the 66ft Alive, and Karl Kwok’s TP-52, Beau Geste. The gap to those two widened as we took off on the shy reach to the southern end of Dent Island, on which stands the only west-facing lighthouse on the eastern seaboard of Australia. At first a reaching jib displaced the flatter one used for the beat and then the big asymmetric, pulling like a pack of horses, took our speed to an excess of 15 knots (and still the wind speed was no more than 10.2).

Rounding the south end of Dent Island we ran for the next hour, often looking aft to attempt to discern our two rivals who were becoming entangled with boats from other classes in this 182-boat regatta. Our progress, still without shouted orders was fast and purposeful in the sunshine and we rounded the northernmost turning mark off North Molle with the windward-going sails set after a perfect spinnaker takedown and beat our way to the northern end of Dent Island and the passage towards the finish off Hamilton Island Yacht Club. We had taken three hours and nineteen minutes for the 40-odd mile course and the smiles on our faces were universally broad.

Nothing, we felt, could spoil our day, but the handicapper doesn’t approve of several of the items that make Wild Oats X! – a ten-year old boat – as fast as she is and reversed the finishing order of the three finishers with Beau Geste again the winner from Phillip Turner’s Alive. With glasses in our hands, when we had repaired to the dock, raised to the crews who had triumphed, the broad smiles remained on the faces of the Wild Oats’ crew who felt that nothing should spoil their day.

Please Bob Oatley, let me sail with you again.
Wildwind 2016 660x82Ancasta Ker 40+ 660x82North Technology - Southern Spars

Related Articles

World Cup Series in Hyères – Racing needs to be fast, not the food
Spanish sisters, Carla and Marta Munté Carrasco, sail together in the 49erFX and know they have a problem. Many sailors will be brimming with confidence after browsing the weather forecast and will be striving for gold in Hyères. But it is a team small in stature that know exactly where they stand in terms of performance that intrigues.
Posted on 24 Apr
New addition to North Sail for Volvo Ocean 65 racing machines
Their sails have powered eight out of nine Volvo Ocean Race winners since 1989-90, with Steinlager 2. Instead of assembling cloth panels into a particular sail shape, the Volvo Ocean Race sails are composites. This means that 3Di material 'tapes' are laid in a specific arrangement, offering stable structure to the sail where it is needed most.
Posted on 24 Apr
Experience is key as Team Oman Air prepare for Extreme Sailing Series
Team Oman Air skipper Phil Robertson says his crew's unrivalled experience could prove vital to victory in second round Known worldwide for hosting sailing at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Qingdao is notorious for its ability to catch crews off guard with a fickle breeze that can go from next to nothing to gale force in a matter of minutes.
Posted on 24 Apr
FAST40+ Spring Regatta - Preview
The second event in a busy FAST40+ season will be the FAST40+ Spring Regatta, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club. The second event in a busy FAST40+ season will be the FAST40+ Spring Regatta, hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club. FAST40+ Race Director, Stuart Childerley, sets the scene for the event.
Posted on 24 Apr
Meet the Clipper 2017-18 Race crew Zuzana Vybiralova
A first for Clipper Race, Zuzana Vybiralova will make history this year as first Czech Republican to take part in race A first for the Clipper Race, crew member Zuzana Vybiralova will make history this year as the first Czech Republican to take part in the race in eleven editions.
Posted on 24 Apr
Melges 24 European Sailing Series - And the winners are…
Maximum number of races sailed in almost perfect conditions was a result of three-day Portoroz Melges 24 Regatta Maximum number of races sailed in almost perfect conditions was a result of three-day Portoroz Melges 24 Regatta - the season opener both for the 2017 Melges 24 European Sailing Series and Melges 24 Italian Sailing Series. Andrea Racchelli and his team on Altea ITA722, the winner of the 2016 Melges 24 European Sailing Series, were showing their superiority since the beginning of the regatta
Posted on 24 Apr
Champions crowned after tricky finale at Sperry Charleston Race Week
Charleston is known for its reliable spring seabreeze, but the Holy City’s coast outdid itself this year Charleston is known for its reliable spring seabreeze, but the Holy City’s coast outdid itself this year during the 22nd edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week. It wasn’t just the three race days either; from the first team’s arrival for practice more than a week earlier until the lengthy awards ceremony on Sunday night, reliable southerly winds buffeted the region, ensuring maximum racing
Posted on 24 Apr
She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the most paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the most paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish...
Posted on 24 Apr
Wild Day 2 at Sperry Charleston Race Week
For a second day, Charleston Harbor and open ocean just offshore provided near-perfect conditions for over 200 teams For a second straight day, Charleston Harbor and the open ocean just offshore provided near-perfect conditions for over 200 competing teams at Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017. Boats across all six courses faced brisk southerly winds of 15-20 knots, while the offshore boats saw five-foot waves and big gusts on the second day of the biggest multiclass keelboat regatta in the Americas.
Posted on 23 Apr
The Vendée Globe skippers hosted at the Elysée Palace
The Elysée Palace yesterday hosted a grand ceremony where the Head of State honoured the heroes of offshore racing. The Elysée Palace yesterday hosted a grand ceremony where the Head of State honoured the heroes of offshore racing. Twenty-three of the twenty-nine Vendée Globe skippers attended the event, gathering around winner Armel Le Cléac’h, appointed Knight of the Legion of Honour.
Posted on 22 Apr