Monthly Archives: December 2013
Photo © Cape to Rio
The Cape to Rio Race sponsored by Xtra-Link and organised by the Royal Cape Yacht Club is one of the world’s oldest, longest and toughest ocean races.
Although the race has finished in other South American destinations, the first Cape to Rio Race took place in 1971, pre-dating the Whitbread Round the World Race. The rhum line is 3300 miles across the Southern Atlantic, the vast expanse of desolate ocean is notorious for high winds and big seas and tactically there are many strategic decisions right from the start. Leaving Table Bay, the shallow waters of the African continental shelf and the wind shadow from Table Mountain can create a mogul field of Atlantic swell. 200 miles from Cape Town, the South Atlantic High must be negotiated and deep into the South Atlantic, mountainous seas can rear up propelled by ocean currents, storm force winds are a regular occurrence.
The finish in Rio de Janeiro can be tense, land effects can cause sudden changes in the wind and waves, a shifty light breeze with a confused sea state is a likely scenario to conclude a long and arduous race. Many of the yachts will spend over two weeks at sea, the Cape to Rio Race is a true test of seamanship, perseverance and determination.
36 yachts will cast off from Cape Town on January 4th with race crew from all over the world. A variety of yachts will be lying the flags of eight different countries; Angola, Australia, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy and South Africa.
Giovanni Soldini’s Italian Volvo 70, Maserati is the hot favourite for line honours and is currently predicted to complete the course in 11 days. Soldini has taken part in over 40 Transoceanic races and has won solo round the world and transatlantic races.
“I have been dreaming of participating in this historic race since I was a child.” confessed Giovanni Soldini. “The crew is ready and very competitive.”
Volvo 70, Maserati has an all star crew and was in fine form this year, settiung a new record between New York and San Francisco of 47 days and 42 minutes. For the Cape to Rio Race, Maserati will have a highly experienced crew of ten, including Olympic Gold Medallist and Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Martin Kirketerp from Denmark and Frenchman, Jacques Vincent with eight circumnavigations.
Whilst, Maserati may be the first yacht to finish the course, the Cape to Rio Race uses the IRC Rating system to calculate the overall monohull winner. Robert Date’s Australian Reichel Pugh 52, Scarlet Runner is one of the favourites and currently routing at 14 days for the race. The Australian crew sailed the yacht to Cape Town from Sydney and after the race will sail the yacht up to the Caribbean to take part in the RORC Caribbean 600 and several Caribbean regattas.
The Cape to Rio Race is the flagship race of the Royal Cape Yacht Club and 27 yachts from South Africa will be taking part. Including RCYC Commodore, Dale Kushner’s Sunfast 32, Yolo (You Only Live Once). Yolo will be one of the smallest yacht in the race and the Commodore will be racing Two-Handed with his long time crew member, Ian Coward. The duo have competed in almost every single Offshore event in South Africa as a pair.
“It is anyone’s race.” commented Dale. “Conditions, good decisions and a bit of luck will the overriding factors. As always we are being very particular in boat preparation ensuring that everything is prepped properly in order to minimise any potential gear failures that we may encounter. We have three rules on board; To make a safe transatlantic passage, be better friends at the finish than at the start and sail as fast as we can – in that order.”
Cape Town local and round the world sailor, Pippa Hutton-Squire, will be competing on one of the smallest yachts in the race. Arnt Bruhns’ German Archambault M34, Iskareen was shipped to Cape Town from Hamburg, especially for the race.
“The Cape to Rio Race is the most famous yacht race in South Africa and I am proud and honoured to be taking part, especially as I am racing with a team from overseas. It is really important to South Africans that this race gets the international recognition it deserves.” commented Pippa.
All of the competing yachts are be fitted with hi-tech DMR 800D trackers provided by race sponsor Xtra-Link and many yachts have broadband data capability and will be sending messages and images from the South Atlantic.
To follow the race visit www.cape2rio2014.com
By Louay Habib
69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race
Sydney plastic surgeon Darryl Hodgkinson’s 50-foot Cookson/Farr design yacht Victoire is the overall winner of the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) named her the winner this morning of the Tattersall’s Cup after the only remaining yacht at sea that could beat her, Roger Hickman’s Wild Rose ran out of time this morning, still 26 miles from the finish at 7.00am.
However, the CYCA had to run the numbers and be very sure before announcing its member Darryl Hodgkinson and his Victoire had been successful,
Victoire crossed the finish line at 0800 hrs yesterday and became the boat to beat. As time ticked, it came down to Hickman and his Wild Rose, and it was a matter of waiting to see whether he could make enough ground to win the race, but, with the south-westerly conditions, was unable capitalise.
Due to slow going, Wild Rose is not expected to finish until lunchtime today, (Monday).
It means that Hodgkinson has won at his first attempt in the 50-foot fibreglass canting keeled boat he bought from her previous British owner, Chris Bull. Bull also sailed the yacht with great success, having finished second overall in the 2010 Rolex Sydney Hobart and fourth in 2011 and again last year.
“It’s an amazing achievement – and the people you gather around you – you believe in them and they believe in you. It’s also having the right equipment. Crossing the line in one piece – we did have a rather nasty Chinese gybe – I had a personal taste of the water,” an overjoyed Hodgkinson said this morning.
Just two years ago, in December 2011, Hodgkinson was named the CYCA’s 2011 Ocean Racing Rookie of the Year. Unusually, just a year later, he was named Ocean Racer of the Year following many successes, including winning the Club’s Blue Water Point Score with his previous Victoire, a Beneteau 45.
The latest Victoire, built in New Zealand by Cookson’s and known as a Cookson 50, but designed by Bruce Farr, wins the race from Phil Simpfendorfer’s Victorian yacht Veloce and Celestial (Sam Haynes, NSW)
So, Victoire not only wins the Tattersall’s trophy as overall winner of the race after Wild Oats XI took line honours. Victoire also wins the ORCi class.
The remaining 11 in the Clipper fleet are all about to finish, as are the five Sydney 38s, both divisions having enjoyed close competition throughout the race.
No more yachts retired overnight as conditions around the Tasmanian coast abated and the south-west winds began to give way to lighter and more favourable westerlies.
By Jim Gale, RSHYR Media, www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race
Mark Richards skippered Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI to her seventh line honours victory in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race at 19.07.27hrs AEDT this evening, and in doing so, equalled the seven line honours record set by the yacht first known as Morna, which took honours from 1946 to 1948 and then as Kurrewa IV in 1954, ’56, ’57 and ’60.
As a 98-footer, Wild Oats XI scored the treble of line honours, overall win and race record in 2005, the year winemaker Bob Oatley launched her. She went on to take line honours again in 2006, 2007, 2008 and in 2010 and 2012 as a 100-footer, when she scored the treble again, breaking her own race record in the time of 1 day 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds.
This time, the super maxi finished in 2 days 6 hours 7 minutes and 27 seconds, Richards and his mostly long term crew (in fact seven from the 2005 crew are aboard) outside their record by more than 11 hours. They faced the toughest opposition of their Rolex Sydney Hobart career, having to take on seven boats capable of beating them, in particular, Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal, touted as the fastest super maxi in the world, along with Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100, which Bell sailed as Investec Loyal to line honours victory over Wild Oats XI in 2011.
Others that challenged them from the beginning included the two VOR 70s; Jim Delegat’s Giacomo from New Zealand and Peter Harburg’s Black Jack from Queensland, along with Karl Kwok’s much talked about brand new 80ft Beau Geste from Hong Kong and Grant Wharington’s 100ft Wild Thing from Queensland.
At 1715hrs, Wild Oats XI was reefed down and carrying a small headsail in Storm Bay, averaging speeds of 12-17 knots, keeping Perpetual Loyal at bay. Bell had his boat blistering along down the Tasmanian coast at 28.2 knots, but it was too late, although he did close the gap by over 20 miles since 1400hrs today, having earlier led the line honours winner in light airs.
At 1735hrs AEDT, Wild Oats XI had just 22 miles to reach the finish line off Castray Esplanade in Hobart, with her boat speed at 19.3 knots, beating into a fresh north-easterly breeze. Richards kept the yacht going, the wind gods smiling down again, delivering enough wind in the River Derwent for him to keep the boat speed up around 9.2-11.5 knots.
Dockside, while waiting for his boat to tie up, owner Bob Oatley said: “Hallelujah Ricko, Hallelujah.” Oatley said: “It was a very difficult race. We lost the lead on the first night out and then picked it up again and improved on it. The boat has a great future and more wins…”
For more info and tracker positions see: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
By Di Pearson, RSHYR Media
Photos © Daniel Forster / Rolex
Oats retakes Rolex Sydney Hobart lead
Twenty-four hours after the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet raced out of Sydney Harbour the pace slowed up as the lead boats picked their way down the southeast coast of Australia. Overnight, Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal made the strategic move to head further offshore than her main rival, Bob Oatley’s six-time line honours winner, Wild Oats XI. Loyal’s strategy worked as they eked out a gain of close to 14 nautical miles, surprising given pre-race the boat was touted as favouring heavier airs.
By midday today (December 27) however, Wild Oats XI reeled in Loyal and took a slight lead. Just ten miles back was Syd Fischer, sailing in his 45th Sydney Hobart, this time on Ragamuffin 100, newly fitted out with water ballast and daggerboards – and as of this afternoon, leading IRC Division Zero on handicap.
The weather forecast will be the game changer for all of the fleet as they sail down the coast. Rachel McInerney, Duty Forecaster for the Bureau of Meteorology in Hobart reported earlier today,
“Currently through Bass Strait there are light southwesterly winds, which will weaken as a ridge of high pressure west of Tasmania moves east. Winds will become light and variable overnight and then a north-northeasterly flow will develop through tomorrow morning; this will freshen the further down the east coast they go.”
“Expecting northeast winds to become strong Saturday afternoon (Dec 28), 20-30 knots along lower east coast (15-25 upper east coast). A westerly change is expected Saturday evening which could cause some issues with winds turning around west-southwest, quite strong, up to gale-force along the south coast.”
Approximately 80 nautical miles behind Wild Oats XI, is Matt Allen’s Carkeek 60, Ichi Ban, currently leading IRC Division 1 on handicap. Will Oxley, navigator onboard, reported earlier, “We’re just hanging on the coat tails of some of the big boats. Looks like a tricky day, and we are hoping to hold onto favourable northeast winds as long as possible. All is going to game plan, except for thunderstorms inshore last night, which slowed the fleet a bit.”
As of 4:00pm AEDT, the bulk of the fleet was between Eden and Uladulla, almost all boats east of the rhumbline, up to 70 nautical miles offshore.
As the frontrunners entered Bass Strait mid-afternoon today they were sailing in a light southwesterly making less than 10 knots of boat speed, in four knots of wind. With the race record for line honours no longer in threat, the ETA for the big boats at the finish off Hobart is more likely Saturday evening. Nonetheless, with 300+ nautical miles to the go, the battle is far from over. The lack of breeze is frustrating and challenging. Anthony Bell, skipper of Perpetual Loyal said, via Skype this afternoon, “Don’t know if you want to be the frontrunner going into Tasman Island; as long as we stay in touch and stay within striking distance… we’re staying positive, and the guys are working hard to keep the boat going.”
Ninety-two boats are still racing, with two boats retired shortly after the start yesterday; Audi Sunshine Coast with damage to her rig, and Dodo with mainsail damage.
For more info and tracking positions see: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
By Rolex Media Centre
Photo © Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex
2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – Start
Wild Oats XI has claimed first bragging rights in the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart, leading the fleet out to sea after one of the fastest, most exciting starts ever.
After a cloudy Boxing Day morning, the sun finally emerged an hour before start time, and with Sydney Harbour looking picture perfect you could almost see the intensity building as the fleet jostled each other along the three separate start lines in a 12 to 15 knot south-easterly.
There were three lines in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual 628 nautical mile race, because the 94-boat fleet could not all squeeze onto the traditional two.
On the front line it was quickly clear that the western, pin end of the line was where the biggest, fastest boats wanted to be.
Only Peter Harburg on his VOR 70 Black Jack seemed content to start his race close to the eastern shore. But when the gun went off, it was Syd Fisher on Ragamuffin 100 who grabbed Wild Oats XI’s favourite spot at the very pin end in a superb start.
Yet in the end it didn’t seem to matter. Wild Oats XI took off, with Perpetual Loyal (Anthony Bell) close behind and above her in a classic big boat drag race to the mark. And right behind Perpetual Loyal, Beau Geste, the Hong Kong 80 foot black hulled boat was smoking.
Karl Kwok’s brand new Hong Kong entry is the dark horse in the race for line honours. A completely unknown quantity, and very fast. At times she appeared to be gaining ground on the two bigger front runners and looked faster than the other 100 footers, Ragamuffin and Wild Thing (Grant Wharington).
As Beau Geste’s sailing master, Gavin Brady predicted, she pulled away steadily from the nearby VO70 Giacomo (Jim Delegat). Maybe this was no surprise, but it certainly was a revelation.
There are three turning marks, stretched across the Heads, to compensate for the distance between the three start lines, then out to the sea mark where the fleet can finally turn south for Hobart.
It has been 19 years since there were three start lines. Whether this confused the navigators, or because of the tactical battle being waged by the front runners, the five leading boats seemed to head up too quickly towards the open sea, overlaying the mark which floated hundreds of metres further downwind.
Suddenly Wild Oats XI peeled away, closely followed by Perpetual Loyal and rushed to the mark when Wild Oats Xl appeared luff Perpetual Loyal forcing her above the layline and causing her to cant to windward and slow dramatically. And then a protest flag appeared on Perpetual Loyal’s backstay.
The confusion opened the door for Beau Geste. By the time Wild Oats XI swung around the mark, the smaller boat was right on top of her.
Photo © Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex
It would be Beau Geste second out of Sydney Harbour, not Perpetual Loyal. Black Jack, which had raced on its own along the unfavoured eastern side of the Harbour, Giacomo, Ragamuffin 100 and Wild Thing came next.
It had all barely taken eight minutes.
As soon as she turned into the wind and the choppy, confused seas between the Heads, Wild Oats XI put a reef into her giant mainsail. Perpetual Loyal powered on under full sail. These early conditions, beating into a stiff wind and rough sea is expected to favour the wider, more powerful Perpetual Loyal over her narrower lighter rival.
And while the reefed Wild Oats XI was no slower than Perpetual Loyal as they buffeted their way out to sea, it did appear that the latter was pointing just a few degrees higher.
Meanwhile Beau Geste hung on, still fast but needing to free up those few extra degrees to power though the chop.
The remainder of the fleet powered out through the Heads behind the front runners, enjoying their own stunningly fast start. Within 25 minutes even the slowest boats had cleared the Harbour, an astonishingly short time. And a remarkably near-incident free start for such a large fleet.
Brindabella was the only casualty, having to re-start after crossing the line before the start cannon was fired, and shortly after the start, Rod Jones reported from his Queensland yacht Audi Sunshine Coast, that he had retired with rig problems.
“The Code Zero masthead fitting failed, so the halyard tore down the side of the mast to the hound fitting – about a metre, and I felt it prudent not to continue on” said owner Rod Jones, who added: “Subdued would be the best way to describe how I feel – disappointed.”
And just a mile east of Sydney, the New South Wales boat Dodo’s campaign ended when her skipper, Adrian Dunphy, reported mainsail damage.
Then at 16:21hrs, Anthony Bell skyped: “Just had team meeting; decided not to proceed with protest. At first we thought we may have been fouled – but…”
And at 16:43hrs, Bell said: “Pretty light winds (11- 12 knots) so doing our best to keep boat going as fast as we can in non-ideal conditions.”
So this race has begun as it will almost certainly continue, full of surprises, at a hectic pace, and with absolutely no quarter given or asked for.
Update at 1800 hrs local
For the first time in a long time, Wild Oats XI is being given a real run for her money by not just one challenger, but a bunch of big boats and at 18.00hrs this afternoon, had just a 1 nautical mile lead over Wild Thing and Beau Geste, with Ragamuffin 100 a further mile away as the two VOR 70’s, Black Jack and Giacomo along with Perpetual Loyal gave chase 1 nautical mile behind Ragamuffin 100.
Skippered by Mark Richards, Bob Oatley’s line honours and overall defending champion Wild Oats XI was off Kiama, sailing east of the rhumbline and on pace with her record of last year, travelling at 15 knots in a south-easterly breeze with six boats snapping at her transom.
Sailing just west of the rhumbline, all were happy campers aboard Wild Thing from Queensland. Navigator, David Turton, commented shortly before 6.00pm: “We’ve got four boats abeam; Wild Oats, Beau Geste, Perpetual LOYAL and Ragamuffin – we’re inshore of them and they’re sailing in a bunch.”
“We’re in a sou-easter in the early teens and we’re going as far south as we can as soon as we can. We’re just getting into our watch system – and we can see a bit of a rain cell which should hit us in the next half hour,” Turton said.
“We’re pretty happy to be in touch the other big boats and we’re doing our best to stay in touch with them so we can get into the next breeze transition with them. Hopefully the rain cell won’t affect us too much,” Turton ended.
So Karl Kwok’s Beau Geste is living up to owner Karl Kwok and sailing master Gavin Brady’s promise. The dark horse of the fleet, due to it being brand new and only arriving from New Zealand four days ago, is 80 feet and keeping pace with the 100 footers in what is shaping up to be one of the most fascinating races since the 50th anniversary race in 1994.
So too the newly purchased VOR 70’s are up with the 100 footers; Peter Harburg’s Black Jack(Qld) in the bunch, while Jim Delegat’s Giacomo from New Zealand is level pegging, but further to sea.
Further down the track, the game is just as strong, with the bulk of the fleet just south of Wollongong.
For more info and updated tracker positions see: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
By Jim Gale, RSHYR Media
Photos © Alfred Farre / www.alfredfarre.com
38th GAES Christmas Race in Palamós, Spain – Overall
The 38 GAES Christmas Race finished today in he bay of Palamós wih double Olympic medallist Slovenian Finn sailor claiming the Absolute Winner title, Trofeo Manuel Albalat. The absolute youth winner – Trofeo Miguel Company – was Ukrainian 470 women’s team Anna Kyselova and Anastasiya Krasko.
Sun and and an excellent SW Garbi wind, averaging 15 to 20 knots, provided excellent conditions for the medal races. All races could be sailed according to the schedule and the top ten competitors in each class enjoyed battling for victory on the last day of racing in Palamós.
Spanish sailor Rogel claimed the 2013 Gaes Christmas Race title in the Laser Standard class followed by British sailor Martin Evans and Spanish sailor Joaquín Blanco second and third overall.
In Laser Radial Women Belorussian sailor Tatiana Drozdovskaya comfortably won the Medal Race and the GAES Christmas Race. Second place was for Polish sailor Agata Barwinska and third place for Spanish competitor Mònica Azón.
Slovenian double Olympic medallist, Vasijil Zbogar claimed victory in the Finn class also winning the Medal Race. Zbogar kept up a tight battle throughout the regatta with Estonian sailor Deniss Karpak who finished second in the Medal Race and second overall. Spanish sailor Àlex Muscat, climbed up to third overall and took a place on the podium.
In the 470 women’s class, the absolute dominance of Ukrainian sailors Anna Kyselova and Anastasiya Krasko who also won the Medal Race. Polish team Agnieska Skrzypulec and Naalia Wojcik (Sarnie Zniwo) and French sailors Meëlen Lemaitre and Aloïse Retornaz finished tied in points but second place was for the Polish team and third place was for France.
The winners of the 2013 GAES Christmas Race in 49er class were French sailors Julien D’Ortoli and Noe Delpeche who had an excellent performance and won the Medal Race. Finnish team Lauri Lehtinen and Kalle Bask and Beijing Olympic champion, Danish Jonas Warrer together with Peter Orster took second and third place on the podium respectively.
Denmark climbed to first and third place on the podium in FX with teams Lin Ea Cenholt and Anders and Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Steen respectively. Second place was for team from Germany skippered by Phillip Müller.
Exciting racing in the Laser Radial Men in which Mon Cañellas won by just one point over Spanish competitor Héctor Domínguez who was second. Third place overall was for Polish sailor Jerzy Bajko.
A tight battle was assured today in the 470 Men with two teams tied before the start of the Medal Race. Spanish team Onán Barreiros and Juan Curbelo proved their experience and claimed final victory in the GAES Christmas Race and won over the Class Junior World champions Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp who were second. The current class World silver medallists Pierre Leboucher and Nicolas Le Berre ended up third overall.
Great Britain took the title in the 420 class with team Max Clapp and Joseph Burns at the top of the leader board and Spanish sailors Paula Barceló and Margarita Alba with an outstanding performance claiming second overall. The podium was completed by Polish sailors Ewa Romaniuk and Kaarzyna Goralska.
The 38th edition of the GAES Palamós Christmas Race came to an end with the prize giving ceremony at 16.00 hrs at the beach venue tent. Fair winds and a great 2014 sailing season for everyone!
Full results at www.christmasrace.org
By Jaume Soler
Building on the momentum of the America’s Cup, Foiling Week is a new event dedicated to foiling boats, their designers, builders and athletes, which will take place across Lake Garda, Italy from various sailing clubs in July 2014.
Based around the Eurocup and Italian Moth Championships from 4 – 6 July there will also be a Forum, with foiling experts that will exchange ideas, theories and experiences with a chance to see amazing foilers up-close and see the latest in performance from 7 – 9 July and full foiling catamaran racing from 10 – 12 July. Brand new foiling concept boats and production boats will be available for testing
Events are open to all sailing and foiling enthusiasts willing to share, compare and learn.
Spectators can come and watch the racing from the shore or spectator boats, listen to conferences with America’s cup gurus and Olympic athletes, try first hand and buy production boats, or simply come for the fun.
First racing event, the International Moth EuroCup and Italian National championship are scheduled between 4 – 6 July at Circolo Vela Torbole in north Garda, the windiest place in south Europa.
The Forum and Course event: From 7 – 9 July, middle of Lake Garda, where wind is strong but the water is flat, the best for foiling.
July 10 – 12 full foiling Catamaran Racing, spectacular foiling boats do battle on the water.
For more info at foilingweek.com
Photo © Carlo Borlenghi / RSHYR
Wild Oats XI the Swiss Army Knife
The guys on Wild Oats XI call her the Swiss Army Knife these days – and fair enough – lately she has added so many foils and blades, thrusting out at all angles from her narrow steel-grey hull, she looks like some kid has had a great time pulling all the do-dahs out of a penknife at once.
When she is sitting in the water, Wild Oats XI looks pure greyhound, but suspended under the giant travel lift at her home base in Woolwich, she is almost insect like, skinny legs akimbo.
The retractable bow centreboard is still there from last year, as are the twin daggerboards angling out on either side just ahead of the mast, and the tiny winglets on the giant bulb hanging from her slender canting keel.
But now, just behind the daggerboards is a horizontal foil, which when extended, sticks out about 2 metres from the side just below the waterline.
Like the other small foils, the stabiliser is retractable, sitting in a sheath across the interior of the hull. It is only when Wild Oats XI gets above 20 knots downwind that the stabiliser will be put into play on one side or the other, depending whether she is on port or starboard gybe.
“Last year we had very tricky seas,” skipper Mark Richards says of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, “so we were doing a lot of nose diving.
“We started off looking at a foil in the bow to lift the bow up, but as it evolved, it moved further and further back.
“They’ve been doing something similar in Europe this year, and what we have come up with has worked out really well,” he says.
Richards says that as well as adding to the boat’s stability at high speed, the narrow aerofoil shaped stabiliser generates some 8 tonnes of lift, making the Rolex Sydney Hobart record-holding super maxi much faster downwind in heavy conditions.
Wild Oats XI will also gain a lot of extra stability from her towering new, hi-tech, mast. At around 200 kilos lighter than the old mast, that is a huge reduction in weight swaying around aloft. Richards says that the mast issues are now behind them and its New Zealand maker is adamant all the problems have been solved.
There is a penalty, of course. There is never a free lunch in ocean racing and the new stabiliser blows Wild Oats XI’s rating through the roof. She will need to finish a long way ahead of Perpetual LOYAL to beat her on handicap, or anyone else for that matter.
But let’s face it, with three other super maxis, a clutch of blindingly fast V70s and the all-new, completely unknown quantity in the 80 foot Beau Geste in the annual 628 nautical mile race, it is all about line honours for Richards and owner Bob Oatley.
Wild Oats XI will need every ounce of extra speed she can find in heavy downwind running if she is to beat her chief rival, Perpetual LOYAL. In lighter northerlies and upwind into a brisk southerly the lean, narrow Wild Oats XI has a distinct advantage, but in a big nor-easter the wider, more powerful Perpetual LOYAL will shine, as will the muscular V70s.
“All the new boats are Volvo oriented,” Richards says, super-fast downwind, but at the cost of upwind performance.
“Wild Oats XI is designed for VMG,” Richards says, because a typical Rolex Sydney Hobart throws at least one big southerly at the fleet.
“We haven’t had a proper nor’ east race since 1999,” when the V60 Nokia broke the race record in perfect running conditions. Although, in 2001, the V60 Assa Abloy also took line honours in tight reaching conditions.
“Most Hobarts it is 50/50; northerlies and southerlies. We have the two most prominent conditions covered.”
“It’s all going to come down to the conditions we get,” Richard says, “and avoiding crew errors,” where a lost hour can cost 20 or 30 nautical miles, or, at worst, bring these highly strung beasts to a crashing halt mid ocean.
And despite the Olympic, Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup star-studded crews on his rivals, Richards believes that his own crew gives him a real edge: “We’ve been together a long time – nine years – and we read each other like a book,” he says.
“You can bring out the big names but team work takes time. There’s no bullshit on our boat, everyone knows his job.”
A different kind of stabiliser, you could call it.
Loyal set for showdown with Wild Oats
Anthony Bell returns to the blue water classic with the former Rambler 100. Since acquiring the boat earlier this year, Bell has embarked on a mammoth project to re-build the yacht since her keel snapped off, causing her capsize in the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race, after taking line honours in numerous races. She was originally and aptly christened Speedboat – for good reason – and took line honours in her maiden outing, the Newport Bermuda Race.
Bell took line honours from Wild Oats XI in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart with his former Elliott designed super maxi (now called Ragamuffin 100 and in the hands of Syd Fischer), crossing the finish line just three minutes and eight seconds ahead of her adversary and after surviving a protest by the Race Committee.
This yacht is sure to be the fly in the ointment, with a crew who forms part of the ‘who’s who’ of yachting, such as the return of American navigator, Stan Honey, who was among the first to sail this yacht when it was named Speedboat.
Reputedly the fastest racing 100 footer in the world, buckle up for a white knuckle ride and get set for what will be the most talked about super maxi battle as Perpetual Loyal goes head-to-head with record holder Wild Oats XI, Ragamuffin 100 and Wild Thing.
Photo © Andrea Francolini
Karl Kwok’s new 80’ maxi Beau Geste
“I am definitely putting my batting average on the line,” jokes Hong Kong businessman Karl Kwok when talking about the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – true enough, too.
Mr Kwok is on deck for his second tilt at arguably the famous ocean race. The first time, back in 1997, he bought a new Farr 49 named Beau Geste to see how she stacked up against the big guns of the CYCA and walked away with the Tattersall’s Cup, after winning the race overall. One for one, you might say.
Now he is back with a brand new 80 foot maxi, also named Beau Geste, and this time he is intent in stealing the limelight from the local super maxis. “We are going for a different race this time,” Kwok declares. “It is not about handicap. This year it is all about line honours.”
The Hong Kong businessman may be giving 20 feet away to the heavyweights but at just a few weeks old, Beau Geste, with her canting keel and daggerboards, is a completely new style of maxi. Light, fast, yet very powerful to windward, she is definitely not just here to make up the numbers.
“Beau Geste is based on the V70s, but is more comfortable’’ says Kiwi boat manager Gavin Brady, who has been Karl Kwok’s yachting brains-trust since they teamed up in the mid-1990s.
It is also less uncompromising than the Volvo’s, which tend to race on long legs with the wind off one quarter. “People divide yacht racing into two categories,” Brady explains, “inshore and ocean, but races like the Rolex Sydney Hobart are what I would call coastal races, as much an in-shore as an off-shore race.”
By that, he means that the race is sailed through a lot of different conditions, from Sydney Harbour to Bass Strait to the vagaries of the Derwent River, so the boat needs to be quick and flexible in all these.
“We’ve looked long and hard at VMG (yachty speak for being competitive in all conditions and all wind angles rather than just blindingly fast when the wind is just right). The mistake we made with our previous 80 footer was that she was very fast off-wind but not so great to windward,” Brady, one of New Zealand’s finest yachtsmen says.
He also believes that Beau Geste’s smaller size compared to the 100 footers is to her advantage in a coastal race, too: “We can make sail changes quicker than a 100 footer. Not as quick as a TP52, but there will be times when we will make a change when a bigger boat will hold off. We’ll be snappier, and we are more likely to be sailing the boat at 100 per cent all the time.”
Beau Geste is incredibly light, sixteen and a half tons. ‘A V70, stretched to our size would be 22 tons.” Brady says.
“For our size, we are lighter than an Open 60, but with our canting keel we have the same righting moment as the bigger, heavier boats. Wild Oats XI has 68 tons of righting moment; we have 60, so we are just as powerful upwind. The 100 footers are heavy boats with heavy sails. I like to think of them as 747s and we are the Dreamliner.”
Photo c Botin Partners
Giacomo ready to go for it
New Zealand’s Oyster Bay wine producer Jim Delegat took just one hour to decide on placing $1million on winning this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – and the form guide leading into the race shows he has made a shrewd investment.
Delegat spent the money on the winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race, the Volvo 70 Groupama 4, renamed it Giacomo after his wine pioneer grandfather and installed the might of New Zealand on the deck.
The crew includes second in command Rodney Keenan, Steve Cotton, Chris Dickson and a top navigator in Juan Vila from the successful Alinghi crew in the 2007 America’s Cup.
Delegat is looking forward to the feature race
“My passion is ocean racing. This VOR 70 caught my imagination. It inspired me,” he said. “We are confident in this boat. We have shown we can sail the boat well and sail a good race down to Hobart.”
“I am 64. I’ve spent 25 years on and off boats. I feel my time has come. Giacomo is the boat to do the job. She carries the spirit of my grandfather, who started our vineyards. I’m skipper. I steer. I’m in the afterguard.”
Delegat says the Rolex Sydney Hobart will come down to conditions.
“We think if we having anything between 18 and 20 knots, reaching and running, we will be in with a strong chance. In the Trophy Series race where we outpaced Wild Oats XI for a while, we were flying. We made over 20 knots downwind and upwind.”
Photo © Andrea Francolini
Ichi Ban a dark horse
Past CYCA Commodore Matt Allen is making a strong bid for the Rolex Sydney Hobart’s prized trophy, the Tattersall’s Cup (presented to the overall race winner), with his brand new Carkeek 60. Built in Dubai and arrived in Australia by ship in November, the latest Ichi Ban had little time for pre-race practice.
Allen says he chose the design because: “There’s been a lot of evolution in the TP52 area and the Carkeek boats, but the Carkeek has moved away in terms of performance. “We’ve designed it to be a fast, powerful yacht with plenty of sail area, but also structurally sound, as I intend to campaign it in major ocean races most of the time and spend about a third of the time competing in regatta-style racing.”
Allen chose 60 feet as the optimum size because of his predominant passion, offshore racing, and the average wave patterns he would expect to encounter on the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart – the yacht’s first big ocean racing test.
He has assembled a gun crew, including the talented Gordon Maguire, sailing master from Blue Water Point Score and 2011 Hobart winner, Loki, and first class navigator, Will Oxley, Robert Case, Michael Spies and Anthony Merrington.
Allen came tantalisingly close to taking Hobart line honours with his former Volvo Ocean racer, now competing as Southern Excellence II for new owner Andrew Wenham, scoring second on line in 2006 and third in 2007 and 2008. He has come so close winning the race overall, finishing fourth in 2006 and fifth in 2007.
Photo © Andrea Francolini
For all the race info see: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
Photo c Andrea Francolini
69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
An assorted fleet are registered for the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for the Boxing Day start of the annual 628-nm ocean classic running from Sydney to Hobart.
Event organizers Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) have confirmed that 94 yachts are registered for the race including 22 international entrants. The tally of competitors should surpass 2012’s 76 race starters, thanks in part to the fleet of Clipper Round the World Race entrants who have swelled the numbers by around 15% by including the race as part of their passage around the Australian coastline.
*see ed’s comment below
Rarely has the front end of the fleet appeared so competitive but six-time line honours winner and current race record holder Wild Oats XI, the 100-ft Maxi owned by Bob Oatley and skippered by Mark Richards, again starts as the boat to beat for line honours.
Wild Oats XI currently holds the race record – setting a fastest time of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds in 2012 – a feat which not only secured line honours but outright victory and the coveted Tattersall’s Cup. Never one to rest on their laurels, over the past twelve months, the Wild Oats XI team has continued its longstanding quest to maximize the yacht’s speed potential.
The revamped Wild Oats XI faces competition from three fellow 100-ft maxis. Anthony Bell skippers Loyal, formerly Rambler 100. Making its long awaited Rolex Sydney Hobart debut, the yacht arrives with an unfilled reputation as the most potent racing Maxi in the world. Loyal’s crew is impressive, featuring the vastly experienced Michael Coxon and Stan Honey, while welcoming an event debutant – 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and America’s Cup winner Tom Slingsby.
Ragamuffin, expertly skippered by Australian sailing legend Syd Fischer, 86 years young and with 44 Rolex Sydney Hobart races to his name, narrowly won line honours in 2011 under its guise as Bell’s Investec Loyal. The outside bet, Grant Wharington’s Wild Thing has recently undergone structural changes designed to improve performance. She claimed line honours back in 2003.
A fifth 100-ft yacht, the Farr 100 Zefiro, arrives all the way from Cyprus, one of a array of international entrants which includes Karl Kwok’s new 80-ft Beau Geste from Hong Kong. Kwok won the competition in 1997 with his Farr 49 of the same name. Yachts from Germany, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom complete the international line-up.
Another highly anticipated addition to the start line-up is the new Carkeek 60 ‘Ichi Ban’ of former CYCA commodore, Matt Allen which has just arrived from Dubai to be fitted out for the ocean classic with little race practice. Allen has however assembled a ‘gun crew’ and is a seasoned Sydney – Hobart campaigner.
The fleet comprises 15 new boats as well as five yachts to have won the race, the most recent returning winner being Secret Men’s Business 3.5 (2010), fresh from appearing at the Rolex Fastnet and now sailing under new ownership as Primitive Cool.
Race Start 13:00 hrs (AEDT)
By Rolex Media Centre, www.rolexsydneyhobart.com
When will the organisers of the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race (CYCA) finally wake up and smell the coffee and accept multihulls like the other key marquee offshore yacht races. The numbers have been in decline over recent years and the race is seen as a big advert for Wild Oats and its broadcast partner 7. A fine example is the sister event, the Fastnet Race which last year attracted the maximum 300 entries in the first 24hrs of release online! It is now twice the size and profile of the RSHR.
Bart’s Bash set to honour Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson
The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation is planning a monster sized attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for ‘The Largest Dinghy Sailing Race’ in the World Ever, which we are calling ‘Bart’s Bash’!
The idea was born from an article by sailing journalist Andy Rice who wrote “I have been wondering if there is a way of having a club race simultaneously across the whole country. Pretty much every club in the country has a race on Sunday morning, with all kinds of boats taking part, why can’t we get all the race results mashed together to create one big national race on a Sunday morning?”
There is a strong team behind Bart’s Bash with tons of enthusiasm to make this a ‘must do event’ and at this stage we are planning to make an official launch with race specifics on 1st February, 2014. The Foundation will be looking to engage all RYA affiliated clubs and centres with the race which could generate interest from several hundreds of clubs across the country.
Jez Payne from ‘The Bart Project’ commented, “It is one of those ideas that has huge potential to be a major, major event that absolutely honours the core of what Andrew was about.”
Sir Ben Ainslie enthused, “We have been overwhelmed with the support from the sailing community for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation. We firmly hope this event will inspire sailors young and old, beginners to professionals with clubs getting involved to capture people’s imagination and create thousands of Guinness World Record Holders.”
Iain Percy OBE added, “I am positive that it will not only receive enormous support from the UK but worldwide support too, it’s going to be a colossal event and a great fun way to get thousands of people on the water at the same time whilst raising money for the Foundation.”
The date to save for ‘Bart’s Bash’ is Sunday 21st September 2014. A full briefing for clubs & competitors to be launched on the 1st of February.
The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation has been set up to honour the life of Andrew Simpson nicknamed ‘Bart’ who won a Gold and Silver medal in the Star Class at the Beijing and London Olympic Games and was working with Artemis in respect of their America’s Cup Challenge when he was sadly killed in a training accident in San Francisco Bay in early May 2013 training for the 34th Americas Cup.
Andrew spent a great deal of his time and energy seeking to encourage youngsters in their pursuit of sailing and, in his memory, have formed the Foundation as a charity with the objective to introduce young persons into sailing who otherwise would not be afforded the opportunity.
Andrew was very well respected world-wide and his death has saddened sailors and supporters all over the world. The Foundation is growing from strength to strength and has raised over £300,000 for our charitable aims in the last 6 months.
The Foundation is gradually making its plans a reality and more information about the future of The Foundation will be available as our plans are firmed up in the coming months.
Trustees: Sir Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy OBE, Leah Simpson, Amanda Simpson, David Tyler, Richard Butcher
By Amanda Simpson, http://www.andrewsimpsonsailing.org