Today, August 28, 2015 saw the Australia’s most successful ocean racing yacht WILD OATS XI literally get the chop at the hands of Bob Oatley and skipper Mark Richards to lop off 10 meters of the sleek, silver-hulled beauty. All is part of a plan to bring a new lease of life to the record-breaking, 10-year-old sailing yacht WILD OATS XI and make her more competitive against more recent supermaxi designs. The new-look vessel is expected to be sailing again in November 2015.
The chop represents the first stage of a three-month program that will see WILD OATS XI yacht back to being 30 metres long, but with a completely different profile. In a few days the hull will be shortened even more, when additional two metres are cut from the stern.
“This is exciting,” Richards said when sharing the first chainsaw cut with Bob Oatley. “I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it when we started, but this is the future for the old girl. She will be an even better yacht when we have finished. The more we cut the better I felt.”
The next part of the plan will see WILD OATS XI yacht trucked to the McConaghy’s boat building facility on Sydney’s northern beaches, where she will receive a new transom to be fitted where the stern has been cut off. Simultaneously, shipwrights will fit an entirely new bow to the yacht – two metres longer than what was cut off today – so that she returns to the same overall length.
Much of the design work for the new-look sailing yacht WILD OATS XI has been done by the original California-based US designers, Reichel-Pugh. By extending the bow forward the yacht will boast remarkably more buoyancy, a feature which all design testing indicates will make her notably faster. Not to forget, she will also be lighter.
WILD OATS XI yacht represents the most successful yacht to have contested the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race over its 70-year history, and Mark Richards is considered the most successful skipper. Since being launched in 2005, the supermaxi has claimed line honours eight times. She is also the only yacht to claim the triple-crown – line and handicap honours and a race record time – on two occasions, and take four consecutive line honours.