Supermaxi Luxury Yacht & Superyacht News

Sailing yacht Wild Oats XI suffers boom damage in lead-up to Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

December 24, 2014

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race record holder, sailing yacht Wild Oats XI, is the centre of an intense repair effort on the eve of the big race, after suffering damage during her most recent training run.

Wild Oats XI Yacht - Photo Credit to Andrea Francolini

Wild Oats XI Yacht - Photo Credit to Andrea Francolini

The sleek supermaxi, owned by Bob Oatley AO and skippered by Mark Richards, broke her 13-metre long boom when sailing in rough seas off Sydney’s coastline. The attachment point for the gooseneck (universal joint) within the large carbon fibre tube delaminated under high load and caused the failure.

The gooseneck attaches the boom to the yacht’s 45 metre high mast.

Initially the problem was thought to be relatively minor, but technicians at Woolwich Dock, where Wild Oats XI is based, advised otherwise after inspecting the boom.  Since then they have been working around the clock making a repair which they are confident will cope with the rugged sailing conditions the 117-yacht fleet will face immediately after the start of the 628 nautical mile classic at 1pm on Boxing Day.

The time needed to complete an effective repair caused today’s scheduled final training run for the yacht and crew had to be cancelled. Instead, the 20-man crew will be sailing off Sydney for much of Christmas Day, just to ensure Wild Oats XI is 100 per cent race ready.

“We were very lucky to find this problem and not have it happen during the race,” Richards said. “Had that been the case then we would more than likely have been forced to retire and return home.

“It’s inevitable that we push the engineering and technology to the limit on this racing yacht, and that’s why things break from time to time.”

Richards added that he was confident Wild Oats XI was as close to being bulletproof as possible; however, the forecast for “nasty” seas and a strong southerly wind for the first 12-15 hours of the race would provide challenges for all yachts and crews.

“We are going to have to make sure we get our yacht through the first night safely,” Richards said. “It’s going to be very tricky at times.”

The southerly wind and rough seas are expected to abate and tend towards the east-southeast within 18 hours of the start. From that point it will become a tactically challenging contest as the winds are forecast to go very light – down to five knots at times – for the leaders in particular.

“Wild Oats XI needs a bit of everything when it comes to the weather for the race – she is an all-round performer and not a one trick pony. I think that if we can get to Bass Strait ahead of the four other supermaxis then we will have a good shot at being first home.”

Wild Oats XI is going for an historic eighth line honours in this year’s Hobart race. She is already the most successful yacht to have contested the race in its 70-year history. This year will be her tenth start in the classic. Since being launched for the 2005 Hobart race she has become the only yacht to secure the triple-crown – line and handicap honours and a race record time – on two occasions. She is also the only yacht to have achieved four consecutive line honours.

RORC Transatlantic Race is Born

December 23, 2014

The very first RORC Transatlantic Race, in partnership with the International Maxi Association (IMA), kicked off on Sunday 30 November from Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, Canary Islands bound for Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, a lovely Grenada yacht charter destination in West Indies, 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. An international fleet of yachts participated, with crew from at least 12 different nations racing majestic Maxi yachts, crewed by top professional sailors, as well as production yachts crewed by friends and family.

Line Honours and Overall victory for Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London - Image by RORC Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Line Honours and Overall victory for Jeremy Pilkington's Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London - Image by RORC/ Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

For all the yachts, the adventure started long before the start line. It takes months, sometimes years for the dream of racing across the Atlantic to become a reality, and many of the yachts sailed thousands of miles, just to make Lanzarote.

Historians argue as to whether the Vikings, an Irish Monk or others were the first to cross the Atlantic. Since the five-week voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, crossing the Atlantic, quickly and safely from Europe has always been an important part of seafaring history. The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s RORC Caribbean 600 is now in its seventh year and the RORC decided that a dedicated feeder race for the Caribbean‘s premier offshore event was required.

Journey to the start line

Derek Hatfield’s, Volvo 60, Spirit of Adventure started their journey from the frozen shoreline of Novia Scotia, 2,800 miles away, crossing the Atlantic to join the race. Marc Lepesqueux racing Sensation Class 40 should not have been in the race at all. After keel failure in the Route du Rhum, Marc sailed Sensation to Lanzarote and successfully completed the race with a novice crew from France. Yves and Isabelle Haudiquet, racing Pogo 40, Bingo was the only husband and wife team in the race, completing their second Atlantic crossing together. Every team have their story from the race and their feelings and emotions have been captured in the race blog.

Prior to the start, Puerto Calero Marina provided an exceptional base for the yachts to prepare for the race. The Calero family are yacht racers themselves and this was evident in the manner in which the entire staff went out of their way to assist the competitors.

Overall winners and first recipients of the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy as well as the IMA Trophy for Line Honours - charter yacht Lupa of London's crew enjoy a warm Grenadian welcome and a huge basket of local goodies on arrival

Overall winners and first recipients of the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy as well as the IMA Trophy for Line Honours - charter yacht Lupa of London's crew enjoy a warm Grenadian welcome and a huge basket of local goodies on arrival Image by RORC/ Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

Safety first

For the RORC Transatlantic Race, safety is of primary concern and every yacht, prior to the start, is inspected for ISAF Special Regulations Category 1, plus additional requirements covering; communication equipment, personal survival training and First Aid, which is part of the RORC commitment to safety at sea during all of the club’s racing activities. In addition to the safety requirements, every yacht carries a YB Tracker so that their progress can be followed by friends and family from ashore. The tracker provides real-time leaderboards and weather information, as well as their track across the ocean.

As well as providing superb facilities, Puerto Calero Marina was the venue for a week of social activities, notably the Westerhall Rums Pink Hat Party on the Tuesday and RORC Transatlantic Race Gala Party on the Thursday before the race.

After a 24 hour delay due to a frontal system which swept through the Canary Islands, bringing more than 45 knots of wind, the start of the RORC Transatlantic Race was blessed with sunshine and a gentle northerly breeze. The only abnormal weather feature was a perfect double rainbow, pointing the way to the turning mark off Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife – the only mark of the course before the fleet would make landfall in Grenada.

Windfall, the Russian chartered Southern Wind 94, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone put up a fight to the finish with Lupa for Line Honours. Some of the Russian sailors completed their Ocean Yachtmaster during the crossing

Superyacht Windfall, the Russian chartered Southern Wind 94, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone put up a fight to the finish with Lupa for Line Honours. Some of the Russian sailors completed their Ocean Yachtmaster during the crossing Image by RORC/ Arthur Daniel & Orlando K Romain

The Race is on..and results

Line Honours & Overall Winner:

GBR Jeremy Pilkington’s Baltic 78, Lupa of London

In the battle for Line Honours and the IMA Line Honours Trophy, there was an early exit for the hot favourite the Finot-Conq 100 superyacht Nomad IV, sailed by Jean-Paul Riviere. On Day Three, gear failure forced the French Maxi to head back to the Canary Islands for repairs. Russian chartered Southern Wind 94 superyacht Windfall, skippered by Fabrizio Oddone and Jeremy Pilkington’s British Baltic 78 charter yacht Lupa of London took up the running and an epic battle ensued for Line Honours. The two powerful Maxis duelled for 3000 miles with the lead swapping hands on numerous occasions. However, Lupa of London eventually got the better of Windfall in the lighter downwind conditions as the two yachts approached Grenada.

Lupa of London arrived at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in an elapsed time of 11 days, 01 hour, 38 minutes and 55 seconds, setting the record for others to beat in future editions of the race. Windfall crossed the finish line less than four hours later to win IRC Zero. The Russian flagged Maxi crew included world-class professionals; Lorenzo Mazza, a seven-time America’s Cup veteran and winner of the 32nd edition with Alinghi; multiple world champion, Francesco Mongelli and Irish Olympic Finn sailor, Tim Goodbody, as well as the Russian charter crew.

With the majority of the fleet still racing, the overall winner after IRC time correction was undecided. However, as the rest of the fleet started finishing, it was clear that Lupa of  London’s corrected time was not to be beaten and the British Maxi scored the double win of Line Honours and Overall under IRC, lifting the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy and the IMA Line Honours Trophy. Skipper, Daniel Stump was full of praise for the team.

“We were only eight crew, but they are some top sailors with great commitment and willpower. We worked really hard and seamlessly together to get the boat going as fast as we could and I am really proud of all the crew. On the delivery to Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, I sat down with navigator, Jonny Malbon and in our dreams we wanted to take Line Honours and the overall win, but that was a big call, so this really is a dream come true.”

IRC One – USA Class40 Oakcliff Racing

Two highly different teams battled for the class win, with the intensity of the duel propelling the two yachts to second and third overall. The highly experienced crew on board Aref Lahham’s Swan 68,Yacana are all friends from Greece, racing a heavy displacement yacht that they have known for years. In sharp contrast, Class40 Oakcliff Racing, was crewed by four young American sailors who had never crossed the Atlantic before, let alone raced across any ocean. They only started sailing the Class40 on the delivery to Lanzarote.

Oakcliff Racing crossed the finish line on Friday 12th December to win IRC One and take second overall. There was an emotional scene on board as the team congratulated each other with handshakes and bear-hugs. Navigator, Hobie Ponting spoke about the adventure.

“That was epic. We have crossed an ocean and it’s the first time any of us have done it and it feels fantastic. The last 24 hours was the hardest of all. We had very little wind and it was frustrating having spent days charging along at 20 knots. We have all worked so well together and we have finished this race better friends than we started. We don’t know what day it is right now and a shower, some good food and a bed with sheets is top priority.”

Two days later, on Sunday 14th December, Yacana crossed the finish line to take second in IRC One and third overall. Aref Lahham spoke dockside: “This adventure started in Greece over 5,000 miles away. When I heard about the RORC race, it was the ideal way to celebrate all the years we have sailed together. The camaraderie during the race was really memorable for me and when we crossed the line, we all got together and had a great moment. We have spent a lot of time smiling during the race and I am sure that will continue now that we have reached Grenada.”

IRC Two – GBR Nigel Passmore’s  J/133, Apollo 7

Nigel Passmore’s British J/133, Apollo 7, crossed the finish line on Monday 15th December 2014 with an elapsed time of 15 days, 08 hours, 45 minutes and 15 seconds, to win the class ahead of Frank Lang’s French X-40, Optim’X.

Nigel Passmore spoke dockside in Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina about the race and why he decided to take part:

“At the beginning of this race, we went through the hard bit and we had a blustery period mid-Atlantic and I remember one night at the wheel in well over 30 knots of wind. It was pitch black with torrential rain and difficult to read the waves. We didn’t take the kite down or put another reef in, we kept pushing hard. You know you have to keep driving on if you are going to succeed. This is something I have wanted to do for 20 years or more.”

IRC Three – FRA Denis Villotte’s JNP 12, Sérénade

Denis Villotte’s French JNP 12, Sérénade, crossed the finish line on Friday 19th December with an elapsed time of 18 days, 20 hours, 01 minutes and 55 seconds. The three-man team on Sérénade was the final yacht to complete the inaugural race and was the winner of IRC Three.

“That was very hard,” commented Denis. “The first half because of the changing winds and the second half because we were fighting against the light winds. For the last seven days we had just nine knots of wind and we had no spinnaker for the last three days. Both Alain and Pit were close friends before the race. I knew them but less, but we are all close friends now! This is my second transatlantic, the first one was a lot easier as we had much more regular and better winds. For this race, the variety of conditions has made it far more interesting from a navigational point of view.  We are delighted to be here in Grenada to such a fantastic welcome in the middle of the night. We were just looking forward to making land and when we saw Grenada, our joy was huge, but to arrive with so many smiling faces was just incredible.”

Thank you Grenada

Tribute must be paid to the people of Grenada and the management and staff at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. Every yacht, regardless of the time of day or night was greeted at the finish line by the marina and escorted to the dock for a warm reception and a cold beer and a basket of Grenadian goods, including Westerhall Rums. During their stay, the helpful staff assisted with immigration, hotel accommodation, island tours and all manner of yacht services. The people of Grenada were just as welcoming.

The RORC Transatlantic Race comes to an end close to Christmas, a time for goodwill to all and there is no finer a place than Grenada to experience that feeling of kindness.

A torrid start likely for Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet

December 22, 2014

A bashing, crashing and punishing first night at sea could well decide the outcome in the race for line honours in the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014. Consequently, Mark Richards, the skipper of the famous 30m Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI, is as concerned as any other competitor, not for their safety, but for being able to preserve the yacht.

100ft Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI - Brett Costello

100ft Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI - Brett Costello

“It’s never fun smashing your way upwind in this race, particularly in a big yacht,” Richards said on hearing the forecast for the 628 nautical mile classic, which starts on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day. “It’s going to be really challenging for the first 12 hours or so; the result could well be decided by who keeps their boat in one piece and doesn’t make mistakes. It’s going to be about going fast, but not so fast that you damage your boat.”

Sailing yacht Wild Oats XI, owned by prominent Australian winemaker, Bob Oatley AO, is going for an unprecedented eighth line honours in what is the 70th anniversary edition of the great race.

Apart for the challenges the weather will bring, the 30-metre long supermaxi must also hold at bay four other similar sized, and perfectly prepared, yachts, three of which – superyacht Comanche (USA), luxury yacht Rio 100 (USA) and sailing yacht Ragamuffin (Australia) – are unknown quantities. The fourth challenger is sailing yacht Perpetual Loyal (Australia) which has held the reputation for being the world’s fastest ocean racing yacht.

Wild Oats XI yacht’s navigator and on-board meteorologist, Juan Vila, concurred with the Bureau of Meteorology’s preliminary forecast for the race, which was issued today. Currently a southerly change, bringing winds gusting to 30 knots, will sweep up the coast of NSW around the time of the start and last for 12 hours or more.

It is, however, not the wind strength, but the associated sea state, that is likely to cause problems. The southerly wind will counter a strong-flowing coastal current, and this will inevitably create steep and nasty seas, which, if not negotiated properly, could cause hull or rig damage.

“I don’t expect this year’s race to be easy for anyone,” Richards said. “Once we get through the first twelve to 18 hours we will then have to contend with very tricky light winds on approach to Bass Strait, and possibly off the coast of Tasmania. There will also be some good reaching conditions, and that will certainly suit Comanche and Loyal. It’s safe to say we are going to have to be right on our game all the way this year.”

If there is a plus for Wild Oats XI superyacht it is that the current weather outlook strengthens the likelihood that her race record time of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes 12 seconds will remain intact for another year.

Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI’s 12-metre long carbon fibre boom was in the workshop and Woolwich Dock today for some minor structural changes.

Richards is planning a final trial run for the yacht and crew on Christmas Eve.

Atlantic Record broken by 100ft Maxi superyacht LEOPARD 3

December 19, 2014

Mike Slade’s canting keel 100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard 3 took Line Honours for the 2014 ARC Race (IRC Racing Division), crossing the finish line off Rodney Bay, a beautiful St.Lucia yacht charter destination, nestled in the Caribbean, on 3 December at 01:09:51 UTC. Superyacht Leopard by Finland, co-skippered by Chris Sherlock and Samuli Leisti, set a new record for the race.

100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard 3 breaks Atlantic Record

100ft Maxi charter yacht Leopard 3 breaks Atlantic Record

In an elapsed time of 8d 14h 39m 51s, this sets a new record for the 2700 nautical mile course, which has been run for over 30 years. The previous record was set last year by Max Klink’s Knierim 65, Caro. Leopard’s time beat the previous record by 2d 6h 45m 19s.

For the race, luxury yacht Leopard by Finland was chartered to Samuli Leisti ‘This project started 18 months ago when I decided to charter Leopard and put a team together to work with Leopard’s team 50/50. There has not been any bigger project from Finland since 1989/1990 Whitbread Race, hopefully this will be a big push for Finnish big boat racing. I think all sailors dream of doing a record transatlantic run and this has been the best way to do it. Hopefully we can announce future projects soon.’

Super yacht Leopard by Finland had excellent sailing conditions with a consistent breeze throughout and Captain Chris Sherlock commented: “This was a very good race for Leopard we had good downwind sailing conditions the whole way, albeit getting lighter towards the finish in St Lucia. Leopard’s top speed for the trip was 32.6 knots and the boat consistently averaged in excess of 20 knots. A proper blast across the Atlantic – it is what the boat was built for and a real thrill.”

Leopard currently holds four Transatlantic records beginning with the WRSSC powered sailing systems record from Ambrose light to the lizard in the UK (7 days, 19 hours and 21 minutes), the South Atlantic race record from Cape town to Brazil (10 days, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 35 seconds), the IMA maxi association race from Tenerife to Virgin Gorda (7 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes, 12 seconds), and now the ARC race record from Gran Canaria to St Lucia.

“Four different courses, four different records! It is a fantastic achievement for Leopard” commented owner Mike Slade. “A fantastic result particularly in her new racer cruiser mode and all credit to our charterers from Finland. We now head to Antigua for the RORC Caribbean 600 before returning and looking forward to a full on season back in the Solent throughout the summer.”

Launch of sailing yacht Rambler 88

December 19, 2014

George David’s sailing yacht Rambler 88 officially hit the water in Newport, Rhode Island, USA in mid-December 2014. Designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian, the all-carbon superyacht Rambler 88 was just completed at the New England Boatworks, and replaces the prior luxury yacht Rambler 90 and super yacht Rambler 100, both of which won numerous regattas, such as the RORC Caribbean 600 in 2011, the Newport to Bermuda Race in 2012, as well as the Block Island Race in 2011 and 2013.

New sailing yacht Rambler 88 at launch

New sailing yacht Rambler 88 at launch

“We’re targeting the Transatlantic Race 2015,” explains David, who holds the record with Rambler 100 yacht, “but the RORC Caribbean 600 and Les Voiles de Saint Barth are right up there. Les Voiles de Saint Barth is a great venue and event. It starts with St. Barth and all that means, plus typically solid sailing breezes that bend around the island and have their gusts and lulls. This is a regatta where you need to get in front and stay in front; it rewards those who can sail where they want.”

David and his crew are regulars at Les Voiles de Saint Barth, and have won three of their four outings in the race. Their spring calendar is already quite full, with the Caribbean 600 in February, then Les Voiles de Saint-Barth in April 2015.

Sailing yacht WILD OATS XI Crew preparing for next week’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

December 19, 2014

With the early weather outlook for next week’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race indicating it will be a sometimes torrid all-round test over the 628 nautical miles, the highly skilled crew of race record holder, sailing yacht Wild Oats XI, is feeling comfortable, but not over-confident.

100ft Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI at the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Image by Brett Costello

100ft Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI at the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Image by Brett Costello

“It’s too early to be certain about the weather, but today it looks like we’ll have a upwind test into a southerly wind heading away from Sydney, then a bit of everything down the track,” said Wild Oats XI yacht’s skipper, Mark Richards. “If that’s what we get then we’ll be pretty happy because we know we’ve got a good all-round boat. Even so, we know it’s a Hobart race, and our experience reminds us it’s usually a game of snakes and ladders.”

The experience Richards was referring to is his 20-man crew with a total of 225 Sydney to Hobart races in their wake. Included in that number are five crew who have done all previous nine races aboard the 30-metre long supermaxi since she was launched in 2005 – Richards, world champion and Olympic sailor Iain Murray, Steve ‘Mothballs’ Jarvin, John Hildebrand and Rodney Daniel.

Owned by prominent wine maker and philanthropist, Bob Oatley AO, luxury yacht Wild Oats XI is already the most successful yacht in the 70-year history of the Hobart race. This year she will be going for a record-breaking eighth line honours, but unfortunately for the 86-year-old owner, a medical condition will prevent him from being aboard. That won’t stop him, however, from doing the next best thing – he will be following his yacht’s progress from the air, and be waiting at the finish, no matter the result.

Oatley, Richards and the team know that being first into Hobart will not come easily this year as there are four other 30-metre long supermaxis competing, and all have been prepared for one thing – to cross the finish line ahead of the fleet. Of the four, most attention will focus on the radical and untried, black and red-hulled American entry, superyacht Comanche, owned by American Jim Clark and his Australian wife, Kristy Hinze-Clark.

Internationally recognised yachting meteorologist, Roger Badham, said today that the computer models he is analysing for the Hobart race forecast currently indicate it will be a downwind spinnaker start for the fleet on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day, then a rough ride south into a 20-25 knot headwind for the first few hours after the yachts clear the harbour entrance. Badham also said that the weather pattern for the remainder of the race will not become apparent until late tomorrow, at the earliest. Currently though, it does appear that after crossing Bass Strait the leading yachts will have a fast, cross-wind reaching leg in a westerly wind when sailing down Tasmania’s east coast.

Badham added one other prediction, based on the current weather outlook: super yacht Wild Oats XI’s race record time of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes 12 seconds will not be broken this year.

Wild Oats XI yacht’s final ocean trials will be conducted off Sydney this weekend.

Andrea Francolini – The photographer who has been with sailing yacht Wild Oats XI for a decade

December 18, 2014

Andrea Francolini is the photographer who has been with the famous 30-metre Supermaxi sailing yacht Wild Oats XI since the time of her conception. Today, he stands tall in the world of yachting photographers. He has more than 140 cover shots to his credit in Australia, and for the past three years he has been a finalist in the international Mirabaud Yachting Photographer of the Year awards.

Andrea Francolini

Andrea Francolini

43-year-old Andrea Francolini is of Italian descent.  He was born in Milan, but after 14 years of being in Australia he now considers himself to be as much an Aussie as he is an Italian.

Andrea revealed an aptitude for artistic creativity during his school years, and this led to him pursuing a career as a graphic designer. There was a problem however: his talents didn’t extend to being able to draw, so he soon turned to photography to illustrate his thoughts and theories.

About the same time a cousin who was an avid sailor asked Andrea to join him aboard his small sailboat at the picturesque Lake Como, 40 kilometres to the north of Milan, for a day’s outing, and Andrea agreed. He took his camera with him to get some nice shots of the magnificent scenery around the lake, but fate intervened and the life of a yachting photographer emerged … literally, with a splash.

Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI at the start of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Image by Andrea Francolini

Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI at the start of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Image by Andrea Francolini

As Andrea was preparing to step from the dock onto the boat a gust of wind suddenly filled the sails. Equally suddenly, the boat took off, so Andrea decided to make a leap for it. Unfortunately though, by the time he was in mid-air, the gap between dock and the deck had expanded far too fast, and his pier-head leap failed in spectacular fashion. Instead of being “on” Lake Como, young Andrea was then “in” it.

For some unknown reason the cousin kept sailing away, so a sodden and somewhat embarrassed Andrea clambered back onto the dock so he could drip-dry in the warmth of the summer sun. It was while he was standing there that he became captivated by the symmetry and motion of the boats sailing on the lake, so he took out his camera – which he’d somehow managed to keep dry – and began photographing them. Before long people were coming to him on the dock asking if they could buy copies of the images he was taking, and from that moment the life of a commercial yachting photographer was born.

Andrea’s work soon came to the attention of one of the greats of international yachting photography, Carlo Borlenghi, and this led to the multi-lingual Andrea was working with him as an assistant. He could not have wanted for a better tutor.

After two years with Carlo, Andrea decided it was time to go solo, and for reasons he can’t explain, he found himself heading for Australia in late 2000 to look for work. He arrived in Sydney on December 12, and 14 days later he was on the harbour photographing the start of the Sydney Hobart race.

Solas Big Challenge 2014

Solas Big Boat Challenge 2014

On Boxing Day this year – 14 years after he arrived in Australia – Andrea will be at the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race as official photographer for Bob Oatley’s supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI, as well as one of the yacht’s principal sponsors, Audi. He has been the official photographer for Wild Oats XI from the time prior to construction starting in 2005, and has held the same role for the Oatley’s, and for Audi at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, for the past decade.

Today seventy-five per cent of his business is marine related – everything from dinghies and skiffs to supermaxis and superyachts. The remainder of his photographic work is commercial, social and scenic.

Inevitably, his work as a yachting photographer has had some hair-raising moments, none more so than the time when the photo boat he was aboard at the Swan Cup in Sardinia ran out of fuel just as the fleet was charging towards it from metres away. The driver panicked and jumped overboard, but miraculously, disaster was averted.

Beyond photography Andrea has established a charity, My First School, to help children in remote regions of Pakistan get a better education. The money he raises goes primarily towards providing facilities, including furniture and small buildings, but this year he has also been able to provide enough funding to guarantee the education of three youngsters for the next five years.

Supermaxi sailing yacht WILD OATS XI Final Modification for Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

December 16, 2014

Bob Oatley’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race record holder, the 30-metre Supermaxi sailing yacht Wild Oats XI is out of the water for a final modification, following a high speed and rough weather training run off Sydney.

Wild Oats XI Yacht at RSHYR 2012 - Credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

Wild Oats XI Yacht at RSHYR 2012 - Credit to Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The 30-metre superyacht Wild Oats XI was taken offshore in a 30–35 knot south easterly wind and big seas to test every part of the boat, and to remind the crew just how tough a Hobart race can be.

At the end of the day, when skipper Mark Richards turned the yacht back towards Sydney Heads, Wild Oats XI yacht gave her crew a stunning ride as she surfed down big seas, at one stage topping a remarkable 33 knots. At the time her mainsail had been reefed down to almost a quarter of its size, and a small No. 4 jib was set.

“It was a really valuable day when it came to preparing for the Hobart race,” Richards said, “and the ride back into the harbour capped it off. We sailed upwind and down all day, did sail changes and went through every other possible manoeuvre.”

Richards added that sailing in such testing conditions also proved that the extended hydrofoil wing – which was recently increased in length by 800 millimetres – was not such a good idea. While it had delivered the desired increase in speed in light winds, it was a hindrance in rough seas.

“The extra length protruding out to windward caused Wild Oats to slam much harder off the back of big waves when we were sailing upwind,” Richards explained. “There was only one solution – take the wing back to its original length so that it would be completely encased within the hull when not in use. So, the boat is now out of the water so the wing can be modified.”

Richards also revealed that a new, maximum sized upwind “Code Zero” headsail, which is scheduled to arrive from America on Thursday, would complete Wild Oats XI superyacht’s sail inventory for the race.

The importance of the modification to super yacht Wild Oats XI’s hydrofoil wing will prove highly important if the preliminary weather outlook for the big race from yachting meteorologist, Roger Badham, proves correct.

Badham, who has been forecasting for the Hobart race for more than 30 years, has “red flagged” the possibility of “extremely strong wind over Bass Strait and Tasmania” on December 27. However, he stressed that while he was closely monitoring this possible development, his experience told him that the forecast would not become anything like accurate until five days before the start on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day.

Sailing yacht Wild Oats XI is the most successful yacht to have contested the Sydney Hobart race in its 70 year history. This year, in what will be her tenth start in the classic, the sleek racer will be going for an unprecedented eighth line honours. Since being launched for the 2005 Hobart race she has become the only yacht to secure the triple-crown – line and handicap honours and a race record time – on two occasions. She is also the only yacht to have achieved four consecutive line honours.

Aurora delivers 100ft Supermaxi sailing yacht COMANCHE set to debut at Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

December 16, 2014

Aurora Global Logistics, in partnership with Peters & May, is delighted to announce that they have been involved in the shipping as well as import clearance of the all-new 100-foot Supermaxi sailing yacht Comanche. Superyacht Comanche is set to debut at the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, kicking off on Boxing Day.

100ft superyacht Comanche delivered by Aurora - Image credit to Aurora Yacht Logistics

100ft superyacht Comanche delivered by Aurora - Image credit to Aurora Yacht Logistics

Possibly one of the most talked about entries for the 70th Anniversary Race, luxury yacht Comanche was built to break monohull sailing records. She has been designed by Guillaume Verdier Yacht Design/VPLP to push the boundaries of technology with the ultimate goal of taking line honours this year. She is spiced with Australian flavor, with her co-owner being the former Australian supermodel, Kristy Hinze-Clark.

As the appointed Peters & May agent in Australia, Aurora played a pivotal role in transport negotiations, import clearance formalities and discharge formalities for the 100ft Supermaxi race yacht Comanche, her 45m mast and several shipments of parts and accessories required in preparation for her maiden event.

Contracts are also in place for her return journey to the East Coast of the USA following the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Kane Bygrave, Director of Aurora Logistics, said Aurora are pleased and honored to be involved with the transport and logistics required to get a yacht such as Comanche yacht to the starting line of Australia’s most historical sailing event.

“There are very few experienced international yacht transport service providers available in the trade routes between Australia, Europe and the USA, however in conjunction with our network partners Peters & May, Aurora are able to offer a range of reliable transport options for private yacht owners, dealers, race teams and commercial craft alike.”

Sailing yacht Wild Oats XI heading into Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014

December 10, 2014

Yesterday’s SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour saw Bob Oatley’s supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI claim top honours. The skipper and crew of the champion sailing yacht Wild Oats XI feel that the recently fitted hydrofoil wing will give them something in reserve for the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014, set to kick off on Boxing Day.

Superyachts Perpetual Loyal, Wild Oats XI and Comanche at SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014 - Photo by Andrea Francolini

Supermaxi yachts Perpetual Loyal, Wild Oats XI and Comanche at SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014 - Photo by Andrea Francolini

Trials over recent days have left little doubt that the now lengthened retractable wing, which extends to leeward near the mast, is contributing to an increase in speed in light winds. Its benefits have already been proven in stronger winds.

“The tests have shown that the new wing is producing results better than expected,” Wild Oats XI yacht’s skipper, Mark Richards, said after the yacht secured the Big Boat Challenge line honours trophy for the eighth time. “We deliberately didn’t use it in the harbour race, but when we did trial it over the weekend, both in the harbour and offshore, there was a noticeable increase in speed in the low wind range – and that was what we were looking for.

SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014 from above

SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014 from above

“However, what we didn’t expect was the stabilising effect the wing provided on all points of sailing – the yacht didn’t rock around anywhere near as much as she used to. It’s a proven fact that a smoother motion through the water leads to improved airflow over the sails – two things that really contribute to better speed.”

Supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI is already dubbed the “Swiss Army Knife” because of the six, either fixed or retractable, appendages on the hull. Now, in keeping with the attachment theme, the crew has decided to refer to the new carbon-fibre hydrofoil wing, which is 80 centimetres longer than the previous version, as “The Ironing Board”.

SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014

SOLAS Big Boat Challenge 2014

Richards, who flew out to Malaysia on a 48-hour business trip immediately after the Big Boat Challenge, will be back at the helm of Wild Oats XI yacht for more trials at the weekend.

Superyacht Wild Oats XI is the most successful yacht to have contested the Sydney Hobart race in its 70 year history. This year, in what will be her tenth start in the classic, the sleek racer will be going for an unprecedented eighth line honours. Since being launched for the 2005 Hobart race she has become the only yacht to secure the triple-crown – line and handicap honours and a race record time – on two occasions. She is also the only yacht to have achieved four consecutive line honours.