After being edged out by the 100-foot maxi Investec Loyal for line honors in the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart, owner Bob Oatley and the crew of Wild Oats XI were not about to let that happen again in 2012.
Among the changes made to the Aussie maxi-racer were the addition of a pair of winglets to the boat’s keel, a new retractable centerboard in the bow and a massive 5,700 ft2 Code 0 headsail to help cope with the fickle winds that often plague the race’s finish on Tasmania’s Derwent River.
The result? Not only did the boat take line honors in the 68th running of the Boxing Day classic, it won the race on corrected time and covered the 628-mile course in 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes—breaking the record it set in 2005, when it also swept all three race categories. Wild Oats XI has now taken line honors six times.
“The winglets on the keel make us just that little bit faster in all weather, and the new retractable centerboard gives us more speed in light winds, as [does] the huge Code 0,” said Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards. “That sail is like replacing a rifle with a cannon.”
Tough going for the rest of the 75-boat fleet, which had to make do with mere sails.
Photos courtesy of Daniel Forster/Rolex (top); of Peter Blakeman