Since her launch in 2005 as a narrow-hulled, canting-keeled coastal racer, Wild Oats XI has been radically altered on a number of occasions.
She has been nick-named “the Swiss army knife” because of her many appendages, such as the canting keel, a (now removed) forward spade rudder, the DSS board that provides righting moment in strong winds and the two retractable dagger boards. The most recent changes have involved cutting off the bow and stern and replacing them with radically different shapes.
When viewed from astern alongside the 2014 Maxi Comanche, the difference in design philosophy is obvious. Comanche is a “fat bottomed girl” that looks like a skiff on steroids comared with the slender form of the older Oats. Obviously the two boats will perform very differently depending on the conditions. The big question is whether the changes to Oats are enough to make up the speed difference that Comanche has acquired during her intensive campaigning over the past 12 months.
To give readers a much better idea of all the changes to Wild Oats, why they have been made and what they are supposed to achieve, Australian Sailing commissioned technical writer Dario Valenza to produce an article that explains all.
In a fascinating insight, Dario looks at all the hull appendages, the new mast, what difference the changes make to sail trim and what the combined package adds up to.
To read the full article, buy a digital copy here or go to your newsagents and ask for the December/January issue of Australian Sailing.
The final word goes to WOXI skipper Mark Richards when asked why the Oatleys didn't just build a new boat. “Because we would have built this one,” he replied.
An interesting comparison, that we have used before, concerns the British comedy classic Only Fools and Horses and this episode where the intellectually-challenged road sweeper Trigger talks about long he has had the same broom. Watch here for 23 seconds and chuckle at the comparison with Wild Oats.