Please select your home edition
Edition
RS Sailing 2019 - Leaderboard

A record breaking run is in the wind for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race

by Rob Mundle on 22 Dec 2016
Wild oats XI at the start of her record breaking run in this year’s Brisbane to Keppel race. Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
While the weather forecast for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Boxing Day suggests it will be “a typical Hobart”, where fast downwind will be brought to an abrupt halt by a stiff southerly change, the bigger picture leaves little doubt supermaxi Wild Oats XI’s race record time for the 628 nautical mile classic could be lowered by some three hours, possibly more.

In 2012 the 30-metre long “silver bullet”, owned by the Oatley family and skippered by Mark Richards, posted a race record time of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds.

The current weather outlook for the start is for a fast run south from Sydney on the face of a 25 to 35 knot north easterly wind, a strong southerly change of around 30 knots off the far south coast around midnight, then a return to fast downwind sailing for the remainder of the course to Tasman Island, across Storm bay and up the Derwent River to the finish.

It is an outlook that appears tailor-made for the big boats in the fleet when it comes to a race record time, and possibly victory on handicap in the 91-yacht fleet. It also sets the scene for a great battle for line honours between the four Supermaxis – Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal (Anthony Bell), Scallywag (Seng Huang Lee) and the recently upgraded CQS (Ludde Ingvall).

Given ideal conditions, Wild Oats XI certainly has the potential to lower the Hobart race record by a considerable margin. Earlier this year she averaged 21 knots when she set a new mark for the 350 nautical mile Brisbane to Keppel race. Her average speed when she set the current Hobart race record time in 2012 was just 15 knots. The top speed the yacht has recorded to date is 35 knots (65 kilometres an hour).

However, while the potential is there for a fast ride to Hobart, the Wild Oats XI crew need only look back to last year’s race to remember how easily and quickly things can go wrong. Conditions then were not a lot different to what is forecast for the race this year – a southerly change on the first night. Last year the crew was not fully prepared for the severity of the change. As a result a manoeuvre went wrong, the mainsail shredded and Wild Oats XI was forced out of the race.

“We are much better prepared this year,” Wild Oats XI’s navigator and meteorologist, Juan Vila, said at the Cruising Yacht Club’s pre-race weather briefing today.

Vila, who has won the America’s Cup and competed in non-stop an around-the-world race, said the crew’s approach to the southerly change will be far more cautious this year.

“Getting safely through the transition period between the north-easterly wind and the southerly change is critical,” he said. “The challenge is to not take the spinnaker down too late, and not put up the headsail for upwind sailing too early. It will be dark when the southerly change hits, so that will make it doubly difficult because you can’t see the change coming.

“The good news is that Wild Oats XI race ready. Our job now is to get her to the finish as fast as possible.”
Raymarine AUS ClearCruise AR FOOTERWebasto AUS 2020 FOOTER 1GCM Mariners Diary 2020 - FOOTER

Related Articles

RS:X Windsurfing World Championships overall
Dutch continue to dominate The 2020 RS:X World Championships being held in Sorrento, Australia, came to a showdown during the morning's medal races which were held in a light 8 knot breeze with a strong ebb tide flowing.
Posted today at 11:47 am
Great Britain win Sydney SailGP title
Ainslie edges out Australia in match race Ben Ainslie and the British team wasted no time establishing themselves as the ones to beat this season as they put on impressive performances throughout Sydney SailGP to claim their first event title.
Posted today at 11:12 am
GKA Youth Kite World Tour update
World Cup on the island of Sal starts Friday Registration for the event is now closed and it's going to be an monumental start to the tour, with a record number of 68 riders applying to compete in the men's division and a record 27 riders applied for the women's division!
Posted today at 10:26 am
Princess Sofia Regatta sailing documentary
Premieres on the Olympic Channel Featuring exclusive interviews, insightful commentary and historical footage, the new documentary The Race of Our Sailors is a virtual journey of the history of the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta.
Posted today at 10:12 am
Harken Youth Match Racing Worlds - Day 3
Into the semi finals for the top four teams including one Kiwi, two Aussies and one American crew An epic third day at the HARKEN 2020 Youth Match Racing Championship, supported by Barfoot & Thompson, has seen Australians Finn Tapper and James Hodgson, as well as New Zealander Nick Egnot-Johnson and American Jack Parkin qualify for the Semi-Finals.
Posted today at 8:20 am
Youth Match Racing Worlds Day 2: Photo Gallery
Australians surge to the front on Day 2, of the Harken 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championship Both the Australian and New Zealand teams have taken charge on Day 2 of the Harken 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championship, supported by Barfoot & Thompson.
Posted today at 7:06 am
RORC Caribbean 600 day overall race update
A fantastic battle came to a dramatic conclusion In the early hours of the fifth day of the RORC Caribbean 600 a fantastic battle came to a dramatic conclusion. In the 18-strong IRC One feet, after time correction and on the water, two yachts rose above the rest to fight for the class win
Posted today at 4:53 am
Sail GP – Day 1 of racing in Sydney
The Bow Caddy Media team caught up with three of the Skippers to get their thoughts. After a challenging day on the water, the Bow Caddy Media team caught up with three of the Skippers to get their thoughts.
Posted on 28 Feb
11th Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille preview
Shining a light on the women who sail and skipper in St. Barth Since the first edition of Les Voiles de St. Barth Richard Mille in 2010, women have always been represented as crew and also as skippers. The regatta has also hosted all-female teams.
Posted on 28 Feb
12ft Skiff Interdoms: Photo Gallery Race 10
Another breezy day on Wellington Harbour to see out the regatta The regatta wrapped up with some wild rides for the Kiwi and Aussie crews competing out on Wellington Harbour in the 60th edition of the competition.
Posted on 28 Feb