A modest breeze and overcast skies robbed Solas Big Boat Challenge bash of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia around Sydney Harbour from some of its drama, this season, but the yearly event always gives a look at the squads that look to contend for Rolex Sydney Hobart Race which begins on 26th December.
Today, the light winds and flat waters were made to order for elegant, slim as well as recently altered Wild Oats XI. Following a great start, Sandy and Bob’s super maxi drew away from the wider, bigger, more powerful hundred footers, Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100, on every leg of the fourteen nautical mile course, in a steady way.
Rambler, the much talked about American 88 foot speedster looked like a probable threat to Wild Oats XI’s authority of the yearly Challenge (she could count eight wins from ten starts, baffled only by her sister ship named Alfa Romeo).
At the first windward mark, just a boat-length disjointed these two. But as soon as Australians unrolled their grand Code Zero for downwind run to the Fort Denison, it was as if she had detected an extra pitch. One boat-length quickly became two, then three, and then four as the Wild Oats XI rooted into the race.
Finally, three minutes fifty seconds classified the two boats when they passed the end-line off Opera House. Mark Richards, who runs Croatia Yacht Charters and is the captain of the Oats was very happy with their first race of his radically remade maxi.