|First up is the three-day China Coast Regatta (14-16 October) and Audi ultra’s skipper, builder and co-owner Ludde Ingvall, is looking forward to stirring up the competition. 'China Coast Regatta is one of the premium regattas in the region and one I have heard a lot about. Yacht racing and big boat sailing in Asia is developing very fast and it feels right to come to Hong Kong and have some fun.'
Ingvall acknowledges that he has some challenges ahead. 'Audi ultra is a very high-tech, ultra-light boat for her size and only built for speed and to be first across the line. Not much effort has been made to keep her handicap rating competitive. We are simply too big for the short courses of the China Coast Regatta, but would hope to be able to secure line honours in most of the starts. That will only happen if our crew work is good enough and we do not make any mistakes, especially as the smaller boats are a lot more agile and generally easier to sail.'
Big she certainly is - measuring 27.5m long, 4.5m wide and 44.5m high, the Singapore-based Audi ultra carries a sail that’s nearly the size of five tennis courts earning her a spot in an exclusive class of racing yachts known as the supermaxis. Thanks to its high-tech construction that extensively uses carbon fibre, Audi ultra weighs just 21.8 tonnes, which makes it a relative lightweight among its peers. Audi ultra represents Singapore, and sails under the One°15 Marina Club burgee. She is jointly owned by Ron Creevey, Thomas Zilliacus and skipper, Ludde Ingvall.
Once the China Coast Regatta is behind her, Audi ultra will then round off the China Coast Race Week with the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race starting 19 October. 'The Vietnam Race is becoming a classic route and can be very fast and exhilarating, so we really look forward to the possibility of a fast run down the South China Sea,' says Ingvall, who is clearly looking forward to the race.
The current record is held by Grant Wharington's Skandia Wild Thing in 42h 45m 41s at an approximate average speed of 15.45 knots. Ludde adds, 'We hope to be the fastest boat for the course and if the weather allows, we would like to be given the opportunity to break the record, but that is up to the weather gods. On handicap, our only chance to win would be if the winds decrease after we finished - and we would have to sail a flawless race.'
Ingvall has twice competed in Whitbread Round the World Races (crew 1985/86 and skipper 1989/90) and has won the Fastnet Race twice, the Sydney to Hobart Race twice, is a former holder of the Trans-Atlantic monohull record and has crossed the Atlantic 12 times under sail.
'Our Team consists of about 50:50 international and Singaporean crew which was created in partnership with the Singapore Sailing Federation to bring Singapore into big boat racing. I am very proud to have as my co-skipper, one of the sailing heroes of Singapore, Tan Wearn Haw. He has sailed in the Olympics, Asian Games and even in the Americas Cup. In the future I can imagine a ‘Big Boat Battle Royale’ between the different power bases in Asia, so let’s start this at the VinaCapital Hong Kong to Vietnam Race. It will be a big moment for us all when Wearn Haw steers the first Singaporean supermaxi across the start line’'.
China Coast Race Week is demanding, and the competition is fierce. Ludde is looking 'to sail the boat and team to the fullest potential and use this year’s China Coast Week as a starting point for the Audi ultra Racing Team’s long term development'.
by RHKYC Media
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3:46 AM Tue 11 Oct 2011 GMT
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