While more modifications are being mooted for the champion supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI as part of her preparation for next month’s Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race, a high-profile new member of the team was revealed on Sydney Harbour today.
When a new state-of-the-art mainsail was hoisted to the top of Wild Oats XI’s 45-metre high mast, the logo of luxury German carmaker, Audi, was emblazoned across it. It signalled that Audi had joined Channel 7 as a primary sponsor of the famous yacht.
For Wild Oats XI’s owner, Bob Oatley AO, having Audi as part of the yacht’s campaign for the Hobart race, and other challenges in the future, is a welcome extension of the company’s association with Hamilton Island Race Week, the tropical destination owned by the Oatley family. In fact, there was cause for a double celebration for the Oatleys today as Audi also announced they will be extending their sponsorship of Race Week for at least another two years.
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.
Audi Australia’s managing director, Andrew Doyle, hosted a function on the harbour-front today to make the announcements. He was joined by members of the board of Audi who travelled from Germany to Sydney this week. As a highlight, they all took the opportunity to sail aboard Wild Oats XI today, along with Australian Olympic gold medal sailing heroes, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page. Australia’s legendary Olympic yachting coach, Victor Kovalenko, was also present.
“We have enjoyed a strong and valuable relationship with Audi at Hamilton Island Race Week for many years – in fact next year will be our 10th year of partnership,” Bob Oatley said, “so we are more than pleased to now be able to welcome them as part of the Wild Oats XI team. We will be carrying the Audi logo with great pride.”
Audi Australia’s Andrew Doyle confirmed that Audi Hamilton Island Race Week was the pinnacle of the company’s comprehensive event program and that the 10-year milestone was a big one for the premium brand.
“The Audi team is incredibly excited to be strengthening ties with a strong brand partner in Hamilton Island and Wild Oats XI. It’s fair to say that together with Audi, these are powerhouse brands in Australia and the closer link will cement our investment in the sport of sailing in Australia,” Mr Doyle said.
Wild Oats XI’s new mainsail represents the very latest in sail-making technology. The ultra-lightweight 3Di fabric, made from carbon and Dyneema fibres, creates a sail with characteristics that are similar to a rigid aerofoil.
– Rob Mundle