sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : Sydney Hobart - From canoe with a bed sheet sail to Wild Oats XI

Sydney Hobart - From canoe with a bed sheet sail to Wild Oats XI

'On the charge: Wild Oats XI surges south in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race'    © Andrea Francolini Photography

When Wild Oats XI surges out of Sydney Harbour after the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race at 1.00pm on Boxing Day December 26, there will be a distinct link between the 30-metre long racing supermaxi and a flimsy little, canvas-covered canoe that sailed on the same harbour 72 years earlier.

That link is Wild Oats XI’s owner, Bob Oatley: he also owned the canoe.

Bob Oatley was 11-years-old when he first ventured onto Sydney Harbour under sail. The canoe had cost a lot of money for a young lad back then – two shillings and sixpence – and once that transaction was complete he set about converting it into a sailboat because sailing appealed a lot more than paddling. The mast was a wooden garden stake, the sail was made from a bed sheet, and the roughly hewn rudder was crafted from a piece of scrap timber.

Bob’s mother passed away before he was one-year-old, and his family was not well-to-do, so this canoe satisfied his adventurous spirit under sail until he was 15 and started work as a messenger boy in an office in the heart of Sydney. That allowed him to save enough money to buy a 12ft skiff.

While this modest, self-made man has never been one to seek the limelight, he needs no introduction these days. This is because, in the last decade, his success in the upper echelon of yachting, and in business, has turned the spotlight his way and transported him into public prominence. He is also a generous philanthropist.

In sailing he is best-known for pioneering canting keels in Grand Prix level international ocean racing; leading Australia to victory in the Admiral’s Cup in 2003, and owning the Rolex Sydney-Hobart race record holder, Wild Oats XI. In business he is recognised as a pioneer of the coffee industry in New Guinea, and after that he became one of Australia’s most successful winemakers. Today there’s still no stopping this octogenarian: he’s back in the wine business with the already successful Wild Oats, Robert Oatley and Montrose labels. Also, his family company now owns that highly desired holiday destination in the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island.

This year Wild Oats XI will be going for a remarkable sixth line honours in seven starts. If that bid is successful then in 2012 the yacht will be out to equal the highest number of line honours ever achieved in the race’s 67-year history. The score of seven fastest times was recorded by Morna (later Kurrewa IV) between 1946 and 1960.

Bob Oatley at the helm of Wild Oats XI. -  © Andrea Francolini?nid=92212 Photography  
Unfortunately, a medical condition with his legs has ended Bob’s ability to sail in long distance ocean races, but he will be following his yacht and the highly experienced team over every one of the 628 nautical miles of the course: ‘These days, for me, it’s a bit like being at the Melbourne Cup and watching from the grandstand while your horse runs for the prize,’ he explained. ‘The big difference is that it takes a lot longer to get a result in the Hobart race. Even so, it’s so exciting for me I still feel as though I am there.’

The Wild Oats XI crew, under the leadership of Mark Richards, is full of praise for Bob Oatley and the opportunity he has given them to ‘carry his colours’ to victory.

Wild Oats XI has never been better prepared for a start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. She will carry a new, high-tech metallic-looking mainsail that holds its shape as if it was a rigid wing. This sail is 30 square metres larger at the top than the sail it replaces. Sailmakers have also increased the area of the yacht’s largest gennaker by 50 square metres to a total of 900 square metres.

‘Prepared as we are, thanks to Bob, we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a Hobart race, and that means nothing is certain until you cross the finish line,’ said Mark Richards. ‘It’s a tough challenge because there are so many elements that can bring you unstuck – weather, sea state, equipment failure, even a collision with a semi-submerged object. Being favourite for line honours means little to us: we just have a job to do, and that will be our focus all the way.’

Wild Oats XI -  © Andrea Francolini?nid=92212 Photography  

The fact that the yacht is race ready meant that the 20 crewmembers were able to spend Christmas Day relaxing with family and friends. If there is to be any anxious moment it will come in the hours leading up to the start when expert sail trimmer, Robbie ‘Battler’ Naismith, is due to fly in from Auckland. There will be 19 crew mates hoping his flight is not delayed.

The latest weather forecast for the race from the highly respected yachting meteorologist, Roger Badham, sees the projected elapsed time for the largest yachts increased to two days and eight hours – 15 hours beyond the race record time Wild Oats XI set in 2005. Badham expects a southerly buster to impact the leaders off Jervis Bay. Strong winds from forward of abeam will continue until the big boats are well into Bass Strait.




by Rob Mundle

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=92212

4:15 AM Sun 25 Dec 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Related News Stories:

09 Jan 2012  McConaghy built Loki's jubilant Tattersall's Cup victory
07 Jan 2012  2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart images
04 Jan 2012  Bob Robertson weathers another Rolex Sydney Hobart
02 Jan 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart - Trophy presentation in Hobart
02 Jan 2012  A special mission of loyalty for a lost mate
02 Jan 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart: Post Race Protests - is there another way?
01 Jan 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race overall
31 Dec 2011  Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Divisional winners awarded
31 Dec 2011  Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Natelle Two arrives in Hobart
31 Dec 2011  Maluka last in for New Year in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
MORE STORIES ...

News - USA and the World







International Moth Worlds - Mothballed on day 4 + Video by Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com,


Gladwell's Line: A change of direction needed in the America's Cup *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,
























Anna Tunnicliffe set to compete at the CrossFit Games by Anna Tunnicliffe, Pittsburgh, PA
























Final day shakes up standings at Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek by Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Race Week 2014,










International Moth Worlds: Thunderstorms delay racing on Day 1
Fuerteventura World Cup - Impressive tricks on day 1
2014 Governor's Cup - Two former winners in the finals
America's Cup: Iain Murray explains reasons for Australian withdrawal *Feature
Wilson and Roble remain number one match racers in U.S.
2014 ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship - Set to start
PWA Pozo World Cup - Moreno twins dominate home spot
ISAF Youth Worlds - Record breaking regatta in Tavira + Video
Melges 32 European Championship - Robertissima remains out front
Farr 40 West Coast Championship - Italians take one-point lead
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 3 images by Carlo Borlenghi
New York Yacht Club Race Week - Marstrom 32 fleet off to anxious start
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 3 images by Max Ranchi
CYC Race to Mackinac - Cruising fleet sets sail in 106th edition
Team Alvimedica getting a touchup
PWA Pozo World Cup - Plenty of drama on day 5
ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship - Day 5 Videos
NYYC Race Week - High performance classes put on shoreside show
2014 Pacific Cup - 'Invisible Hand' the first boat to finish
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - B.C.'s Eric Holden skippers wins
America's Cup: Updates on Team Australia withdraw   
J/70 North American titles - Brian Keane moves to top of leaderboard   
2016-2017 America's Cup - Team Australia withdraws   
VX One North American Championship - Chris Alexander takes charge   
America's Cup: Team NZ disappointed, but on track after Australians go   
America's Cup: Hamilton Island decides not to proceed with Challenge.   
America's Cup: Challenger of Record withdraws from Regatta   
WWA Wakeboard National Championships head to Waco   
Farr 40 West Coast Championship - Day 2   
RP52 Scarlet Runner sails in San Francisco   
2014 Governor's Cup - Nevin Snow and team on form   
ISAF Youth Worlds - Americans claim silver medals in Tavira   
2014 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek - Day 1   
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 2 images by Carlo Borlenghi   
Windsurfing and Kiteboarding World Cup to take place on Fuerteventura   
ISAF Youth Worlds - Medals decided in thrilling Tavira conclusion   
7th Annual Swim for Cystic Fibrosis to take place July 21st   
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 2 images by Max Ranchi   
Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek, Day 2 - It just keeps getting better   
ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship final day preview   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT