City Index Leopard, the British 100 foot super maxi yacht owned by Mike Slade made a good solid start to the iconic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race today.
Racing out of Sydney Harbour City Index Leopard was neck and neck with arch Australian rival 100 footer Wild Oats XI after turning the final mark before heading south towards Tasmania. In winds of up to 15 knots and under bright blue skies, the sea was choppy with wash from a fleet of 300,000 spectator boats who had come out to enjoy the start of this spectacular race.
City Index Leopard has a close battle on her hands going into this evening. With the current weather forecast no longer looking like record-breaking conditions, her crew will be doing everything they can to stick close to rival Wild Oats XI as they cross Bass Strait as they aim for line honours.
Reaching down the coast of New South Wales, City Index Leopard was racing with a spinnaker staysail and an A2 spinnaker – the largest of the boat’s reaching sails, with a huge sail area of 1000 square metres. City Index Leopard would prefer the windy, upwind conditions of this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, in which she took both line honours, and set a new record, rather than downwind conditions which will favour Wild Oats XI.
Skipper Mike Slade commented: 'A very exciting start to my third Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race today, the lovely weather and the fantastic crowds made for a superb atmosphere out on Sydney Harbour. Now that we’ve left the harbour and had a chance to settle down, we’re reaching our way down the coast at 15-16 knots, set for a great tussle with Wild Oats XI all the way to Hobart!' Sydney Hobart leaders at 10:45 26 December 2007
1 Wild Oats XI Mark Richards (3) NSW 17.3 knots
2 Skandia Grant Wharington (19) VIC 16.7 knots
3 City Index Leopard Mike Slade (2) UK 15.9 knots
The professional race crew includes amongst their talent navigator Jules Salter, tactician Ray Davies, bowman Jason Carrington, Australian Noel Drennan, with Gordon Maguire and Paul Standbridge as watch captains. Several of the crew are Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup veterans.
If City Index Leopard does take line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, she will become the first boat ever to take line honours in both the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in the same year.
Formerly known as ICAP Leopard, the 100 foot Farr-designed yacht will be known as City Index Leopard for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. City Index, one of the world’s leading providers of spread betting, contracts for difference and FX trading, is part of IPGL Limited, shareholders in the world’s leading derivatives broker ICAP, who are the ongoing title sponsors of Leopard.