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The Ocean Race: Witt and Scallywag looking at IMOCA60

by Nazvi Careem/South China Morning Post 16 Jul 20:36 PDT 17 July 2019
Scallywag nears the finish of the 2019 Transatlantic Race off Cowes © SHK Scallywag

One week after celebrating one of his biggest international successes, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag skipper David Witt said he was keen to take on another round-the-world Ocean Race and win it, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

Witt, at the helm of a 100-foot super maxi version of Scallywag, took line honours in the prestigious Transatlantic 2019 earlier in July, beating out 12 other boats who made the 2,960 nautical mile passage from Newport, in the United States, to Cowes, England.

The Hong Kong-based Australian – who is also planning an assault on this year’s Sydney to Hobart race – said talks were under way about a potential Scallywag boat to make the start line in Alicante, Spain, for the 2021-22 multi-stage The Ocean Race. He stressed he would only take on the challenge with proper preparation.

“It’s something we are seriously looking into at the moment,” Witt said. “It’s on the radar for sure. We just want to make sure that if we do The Ocean Race again, we are going to do it with enough preparation and proper budget so that we have a chance to win the race rather than just compete.”

Scallywag was a relatively late entry to the 2017-18 edition of the then Volvo Ocean Race, its participation having only been announced five months before the boats set sail from Alicante in late October, 2017.

Despite lack of preparation, Witt and his crew steered Scallywag to a dramatic victory in leg four from Melbourne to its home port of Hong Kong and a second place from Hong Kong to Auckland.

Still, Witt maintains that their performances in the Hong Kong and Auckland legs proved they were capable of competing against and beating the best crews in the world.

“We were only beaten by a minute and 40 seconds, or something like that, to Auckland, and that was one of my proudest moments, as proud as when we won in Hong Kong,” said Witt. “We had very limited preparation and were running third overall when we reached Auckland, which was halfway around the world in the competition. It gave us some insight that if we had enough training and practice and have the right people in place we would be capable of finishing at the right end of the fleet.”

Witt, however, said he would only in interested in sailing the new IMOCA 60 boats.

“I don’t want to do it again on those 65 boats,” said Witt. “I’ve been pretty vocal about it. If we are going to do it, it would be on the IMOCA 60.

“In my opinion, we need a designer engaged by the end of the year. That is the timeline we are looking at,” said Witt.

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