Bob Oatley’s record-holding Wild Oats XI relevantly became the 50th entry received by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia for the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, and the third super maxi to enter the 71st edition of the iconic event thus far.
“We are so proud and feel privileged to be part of this race,” Mark Richards, the boat’s skipper said today. “I expect the CYCA, Rolex and everyone involved feel the same way.
“This is the biggest yacht race in the world. Everyone wants to be in it and win it,” he said of the 628 nautical mile race in which Wild Oats XI has taken line honours a record eight times and twice won the treble of line honours, race record and overall honours.
Wild Oats XI, the reigning line honours champion and most successful boat in the history of the race is currently undergoing her most comprehensive modifications since being built 10 years ago.
“The modifications are going really well – it’s very exciting,” Richards commented.
Designed by Reichel/Pugh, the Australian super maxi is back at McConaghy on the Northern Beaches where she was originally conceived.
“We’ve employed the best people to do the job. The boat’s in the best hands it could possibly be in,” Richards pointed out
Bob and Sandy Oatley, along with Richards, are under no illusion as to what they will be up against when the canon fires on Boxing Day.
“We knew that to be competitive against Comanche, Rambler 88 and Ragamuffin 100, all new builds, we had no real alternative but to modify the yacht,” Richards said.
“We’re very excited about the race. Those boats will be hot – and we’ll have to be hot too,” conceded Richards, whose crew will also take on Anthony Bell’s super maxi Perpetual Loyal among others.
“A new big boat would cost around $28 million, modifying the boat will costs under $2 million. It’s employing people and I am passionate about our industry. Bob and Sandy Oatley are also very passionate about this. It was Sandy who took the bull by the horns in relation to the changes and we’re all very relaxed about it. We have total confidence,” Richards explained
Although the yacht is not scheduled to be re-launched until November, Richards said it won’t take the crew long to get back in the groove.
“From a sailing point of view, nothing will have changed – that’s the joy of it. All we’ve done is cut the front off the boat and we’re putting a new back on it. We haven’t changed any of the major components. The only difference will be a bigger jib and spinnakers,” he said.
At the other end of the size scale, She’s the Culprit, from Lake Macquarie, is also among the most recent entries. Owned by The Culprit Syndicate of three, the modified Inglis/Jones 39 footer won PHS overall last year and also took out the inaugural Corinthian Trophy.
Co-owner, Glen Picasso, said today: “We’re still pretty excited about our wins. When we got home, both our clubs (Lake Macquarie Yacht Club and Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club) had organised celebration parties for us – we were pretty chuffed.”
Picasso said entering the Rolex Sydney Hobart this year was a foregone conclusion for him and fellow owners, Glenn Bulmer and David O’Dowd.
“A couple of the crew missed out last year – and half the crew had already booked their airfares and accommodation,” Picasso said laughing.
“We’re not feeling any pressure to defend. Our main objective every time is to get to the finish line. If the planets align again, well, we’ll take it. The crew sailed really well last year and we put the boat in the right place. It would be nice to do it twice,” he ended.
The start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network throughout Australia, webcast live to a global audience on Yahoo!7 and live streamed via mobile.
The 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race entry and Notice of Race are now online at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/competitors/online-race-entry/.
By Di Pearson, RSHYR media