The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race‘s five-time line honours winner as well as race record holder, the 30m sailing yacht Wild Oats XI will be testing a new underwater configuration while competing in the IRC Grand Prix division at the 2012 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, starting next month.
The Wild Oats XI yacht’s owner, Bob Oatley, decided that the seven-year-old, 30-metre long sloop needed a ‘makeover’ after being narrowly beaten in the battle for line honours in last year’s Hobart classic. Wild Oats XI could not match Anthony Bell’s superyacht Investec Loyal in light winds approaching the finish and was beaten into Hobart by just three minutes and eight seconds after racing for 627 nautical miles.
Wild Oats XI superyacht had been fitted with new, retractable daggerboards prior to that race, and after the finish Bob Oatley left Hobart convinced they slowed the boat in light weather.
Now, after three months of surgery which was carried out at Sydney’s Woolwich Dock, luxury yacht Wild Oats XI will appear at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week still carrying the same daggerboards, but with another retractable centreboard fitted on the centreline just three metres aft of the bow.
Wild Oats XI yacht’s first test will come this weekend when she starts in the 384 nautical mile Audi Sydney Gold Coast Race, but the current weather forecast for the race from yachting meteorologist Roger Badham is for strong winds and a probable race record for Wild Oats XI. If that is the case then the race testing of the new light weather configuration will have to wait until Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, which starts on August 17.
Wild Oats XI yacht’s skipper, Mark Richards, said the modifications to Wild Oats XI were made after exhaustive trials and analysis earlier this year.
‘We weren’t able to trial the two new daggerboards prior to the Hobart race, so it was only then that we found out that we had a speed problem in light winds’, Richards said. ‘When the yacht returned to Sydney we did a series of tests using extremely accurate GPS readings so we could analyse the yacht’s performance, and that led to us designing a symmetrical and retractable centreboard to be fitted near the bow.
‘We now expect to use that centreboard when sailing in winds of up to seven knots, then go through a transition phase as the wind increases in strength to a point where the centreboard is eventually fully retracted and the leeward daggerboard completely down.’
Richards said he was looking forward to being able to test superyacht Wild Oats XI over the full range of wind strengths usually experienced on the island courses at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012, which will be staged from August 17 to 25, is open to a wide spectrum of sailboats – from sport boats to cruising yachts, cruiser-racers and Grand Prix level keelboats, plus high-performance multihulls. The fleet is now approaching 150 in number, so it is likely between 180 and 200 yachts will be competing.
All information relating to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 is on the regatta website. The Notice of Race and Entry Form are also available online.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the title sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2012. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.
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