While the sailing world is in awe of Wild Oats XI, aiming for her seventh line honours victory, the original Wild Oats, perhaps Wild Oats I, a Farr 43 now called Wild Rose is heading south again this year. Her skipper Roger Hickman sailing in his 37th Sydney Hobart race is one of the most competitive on the Australian scene.
Ahead of 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart, Tasmania born 'Hicko' explains his connection with the race. 'I was born in Tassie. In fact I was conceived on the Nell Gwyn, which had raced in six Sydney Hobart’s on the Kermandie River.
‘My mother and father where living on Nell Gwyn, which is my uncles boat, in the Kermandie River and they moved into the house that I was born in about two months before I was born.
'My first three Sydney Hobart’s where with uncle Frank on Antagonist which was his newer boat upgraded from Nell Gwyn. That plus 25 years in the merchant naval you would think the salt is in my blood.
Roger Hickman, skipper of Wild Rose at the Rolex Sydney Hobart media conference. - © Andrea Francolini
And so to the 2013 race... 'The weather forecast is what it is and it is what it is. It has changed dramatically. Four days ago Wild Oats XI was going to get line honours and smash the record and win by handicap. But now there are holes, there are places to be becalmed. There is a bit of nice wind for the back enders.
‘It looks like we are set for a really good solid true blue Aussie dinky di gale to bash round Tasman Island for the little boats, the ones that deserve it.
'We deserve it because we are in the race for return on investment. The longer you are out there the better your return on investment.
‘Clouds Badham is still saying it could be upwards of 40 knots around Tasman Island around that area for the little boats so you can say we earned it.
'The Wild Rose team has had a great year, we are leading the CYCA Bluewater series.
‘'Victories come in ocean racing in very strange ways but for Wild Rose well prepared, her regular crew. Some of these guys we have been sailing 10 or 12 years together without any changes. We have had a good year because we have been there. First and foremost we have been there. Secondly that the race is on two occasions it will probably favour the little boats and we are a little boat. The Cabbage Tree I guess didn’t favour the little boats. We were just very lucky that’s all. We were just very lucky. Having said that we have got a very experienced crew, the same crew. The boats rating is ok and it has just been a very good year and maybe next year mightn’t be so good.
'I think it is going to be a very interesting race, certainly not straight forward. It could be northerly, south easterly, westerly, southerlies. I reckon we will box the compass a few times. What will make it quite interesting is that there will be fresh to frightening on quite a few occasions. We could get two or three passages of gale force winds and if they are not gale force they will be pretty fresh as you know.
'As far as the forecast goes 40 gusting 45 at Tasman light, is about as nasty as you will ever get in a forecast and Dr Roger Badham is suggesting that. As of this morning there is a gale warning for the South Coast.
'I think preparation for the fronts and good seamanship, being ready and prepared and if you get, it’s a basketball term but the transition between the running and the fronts if you can get a good smooth transition you can pick up two or three miles on your opposition fairly quickly and I think that is where I enjoy the crew I have got because as I say Scotty, Pete Inchbold, that we have done 12/13 Hobart’s together on all different sorts of boats and it really helps with the transition from quickly being from on the wind to running to gale force and then that’s a real thing in this race.
You can pick up 10 or 15 minutes two or three times and bang you are where you want to be against your competition.
'Interestingly enough two days ago we thought the current was going to play a huge part, but maybe less so now. According to some of the models there is more southerly currently showing that the BoM is showing and between Sydney and Eden the current is still strong.
'So all things being equal some of the little boats should fare well in the first day because they will have the current with them. The current matters when you relatively slow so two knots for us is about 8 knots of clam for Wild Oats XI.
'In summary the way the weather forecast has changed has given everyone more of a leg up so it is a bit more like a classic Sydney Hobart where anything can happen.
by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team
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8:18 PM Wed 25 Dec 2013GMT
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