(Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo )

(Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo )

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

A record-sized fleet of the world’s largest performance yachts is readying itself in Porto Cervo, Sardinia for next week’s Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. Organised by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the International Maxi Association (IMA) with Rolex as title sponsor, this year’s event takes place over 4th-10th September and has 52 entries. Of these, 25 belong to members of the IMA, the body which since 1979 has been guiding and structuring maxi yacht racing globally, in collaboration with the world’s leading yacht clubs.

In terms of length, the fleet spans the giant 49.7m Ohana to entries at the shorter end of the IMA’s permitted size range – 60 footers such as Gérard Logel’s Swan 601 @robas and the Wally 60 Wallyño.

The biggest class at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup will once again be the Wallys (an associated class within the IMA), which features 13 examples of the modernist high performance luxury yachts. Leading the charge off the Costa Smeralda will be the two Wallycentos, Sir Lindsay Owen Jones’ Magic Carpet Cubed and the latest example launched last October, David Leuschen’s Galateia, plus the elongated version, (now 32.7m) Open Season of International Maxi Association President, Thomas Bscher.


Photo: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

The Supermaxi class has a formidable line-up including Irvine Laidlaw’s new Swan 115 Highland Fling 15, plus two Baltic Yachts-built high performance carbon fibre one-offs: the Nauta 115 Nikata and the Javier Jaudenes-designed Win Win – both making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debuts. This year sees the return of Sir Peter Harrison’s Farr 115 ketch, Sojana, following a lengthy refit.

The Js are back this year. Lionheart and Velsheda will match race their way around the race track.

The Maxi class (79-100ft) will see two high profile yachts making their Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup debuts. Best known for her offshore program, Mike Slade’s Farr 100 Leopard 3 has travelled to the four corners of the earth to compete in races such as the Rolex Sydney Hobart, the RORC Caribbean 600 and the Fastnet Race, in which she has twice scored line honours victories.

Despite only being two years old, George David’s Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed Rambler 88, also has notched up thousands of sea miles. This year alone she has won the IMA’s annual Volcano Race (from Gaeta, Italy, south around the volcanic Aeolian Islands off northeast Sicily) and last week claimed line honours in the Palermo-Montecarlo race, the fourth and final event of the IMA’s inaugural Mediterranean Maxi Offshore Challenge.

The Maxi class also includes four entries from Southern Wind Shipyard, including the Farr-designed 100ft Blues and Michael Cotter’s Windfall. There are two SWS 82s: Massimilano Florio’s Grande Orazio was winner of the IMA’s Volcano Race in 2015, while Ammonite is brand new, campaigned by leading Australian skipper Marcus Blackmore.

Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship

As ever a major feature of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. This year six examples of the ultra competitive, owner-driven, grand prix racers will be lining up, their challenge being to dislodge Hap Fauth’s dominant Judel Vrolijk design, Bella Mente. The reigning Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion  goes into this year’s Worlds straight from victories at Copa del Rey MAPFRE and the inaugural Maxi 72 North American Championship held in Newport, RI in June.

“This is our favourite regatta,” commented Fauth, who is President of the Maxi 72 Class, which is affiliated to the IMA. “There will be six 72 footers and competition will be fierce. It is always challenging conditions both for the around the buoys and the coastal race. It is normally all you want.”

As to Bella Mente being favourite for a third World title, Fauth added: “We have the oldest boat and I am the oldest helmsman, but we have got a very good team. Our execution over the course of a regatta has been good and if there is one reason why we might have a small advantage it is because of that. But it is a very small advantage: The margin of victory in this fleet is two or three seconds – the boats are very close.”


Photo: ROLEX / Carlo Borlenghi

 

The Mini Maxi class (60-79ft) also has a strong line-up. Roberto Lacorte’s Mark Mills 68 Supernikka returns to defend her title, while she will be up against another Mills 68, the more thoroughbred racer, Prospector, which as Alegre and then Caol Ila R was one of the most competitive boats in what is now the Maxi 72 class. Also to be watched will be American Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel Pugh 63, Lucky. Winner of last year’s Transatlantic Race, Lucky in her previous life was Loki, winner of the 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

In 2015 the Mini Maxi Racer-Cruiser class had one of the tightest finishes and the top four boats return this year, including winner, Riccardo de Michele’s Vallicelli 80 H2O, which finished on equal points with Giuseppe Puttini’s Swan 65 Shirlaf (which this year will face stiff competition from new IMA member Marietta Strasoldo’s Swan 651 Lunz Am Meer.)

Andrew McIrvine, Secretary General of the IMA commented: “It will be an exciting year with a number of new boats competing, especially in the SuperMaxi division where a new generation of more race-oriented boats are appearing. The challenge of manoeuvring these huge craft around the tight courses around the islands of the Maddalena makes for a great spectacle and keeps so many sailors coming back year after year.”

Racing will take place over a mixture of windward-leeward and coastal courses. As usual there will be a magnificent social programme including the annual International Maxi Association Dinner and parties sponsored by Rolex and Audi.

Entry List

Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2016 Tracking

 

#sail #race #racing

 

 

36118_0_2_photo_MAXI15cb_26378

Inoui (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Bella Mente, Open Season, H20, Supernikka, Windfall and Inoui division winners
Porto Cervo, 12 September 2015. Eighteen knots of scirocco wind and a rip-roaring race around the islands on the final day of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup & Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship provided the perfect end to a superlative week of competition in Porto Cervo. The 26th edition of the event, which attracted a fleet of 40 yachts ranging from 18 to 66 metres in length, was organized by Yacht Club Costa Smeralda together with title sponsor Rolex and the International Maxi Association.

Hap Fauth's Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, with a bullet and a third place in today’s two windward-leeward races, was crowned Rolex Maxi 72 World Champion 2015. The American team which boasts Terry Hutchinson on tactics managed to whisk victory from the grasp of Roberto Tomasini Grinover with his Robertissima III by just one point. Dieter Schön’s Momo claimed third place in her debut on the waters of the Costa Smeralda.

 

Maxi 72's at start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Maxi 72’s at start (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

“It was just fantastic,” enthused a delighted Hap Fauth, “The level of competition was so high and everyone had fun. We had a great time and the organization and hospitality was excellent.”
At the conclusion of a coastal course of approximately 30 nautical miles Marco Vogele’s 33-metre Inoui was able to celebrate her victory over Viriella and Hetairos respectively in the Supermaxi division. Newly elected IMA President Thomas Bscher was also celebrating in the Wally division as his Open Season rounded off a week of near-perfect results with a second place in today’s race to claimed overall victory in the Wally division. After a fierce battle for second place throughout the week, Magic Carpet Cubed, owned by Sir Lindsay Owen Jones, took the silver prize with J One in third place on equal points.

 

Windfall (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Windfall (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The record-breaking 100-foot Comanche, owned by Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, gave spectacular performances throughout the week and word is she will be joined by several more pure racing machines for the next edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup.

(Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

(Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

In the Maxi division, which together with the Mini Maxis completed a slightly shorter coastal course, The Southern Wind yacht Windfall, owned by Michael Cotter claimed the Rolex prize and timepiece. Following an event-long leadership battle, Masimiliano Florio’s Grande Orazio Pioneer Investments had to settle for second place, just one point behind. The Swan 77 Tugela rounded off the podium finishers.
Thanks to a victory in today’s race Riccardo di Michele’s H2O managed to beat Shirlaf on countback as both yachts finished with the same score. Third place in the Mini Maxi RC/SOT division went to Wallyño.

The Mini Maxi Racing Division saw Roberto Lacorte’s 2015-launched Supernikka perform consistently well throughout the week to take first place overall ahead of Britain’s Spectre and Maximilian Klink’s Caro.
“It may seem redundant to say that this was a wonderful event – the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup is always a highlight of our sporting calendar – however this 26th edition of the regatta was truly exceptional.” Commented YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadeo “The fleet, the owners and the crews were all of an incredibly high standard and mother nature stepped in to provide almost perfect conditions.”

WALLY 77 J ONE, WALLY 94 GALMA AND 100FT COMANCHE (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

WALLY 77 J ONE, WALLY 94 GALMA AND 100FT COMANCHE (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Looking forward to the next Maxi event Bonadeo continued “The conclusion of a perfect event seems the perfect time to invite you all, if you haven’t already done so, to enrol for the very first edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Caribbean Cup taking place in April 2016 at our Caribbean home in Virgin Gorda where we are lucky enough to have another beautiful regatta course and constant trade winds.”
The YCCS calendar in the Mediterranean continues with the Sailing Champions League final which will see teams from across Europe and beyond competing on J70 boats from 18th to 20th September.

See all the results HERE

Wallys and Comanche (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Wallys and Comanche (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Dockside ambiance in Porto Cervo (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Dockside ambiance in Porto Cervo (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

With 40 yachts gathered in Porto Cervo, the 2015 edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup has attracted one of its largest and highest calibre entries in the event’s 35-year history. When Rolex first joined forces with the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS) and the International Maxi Association (IMA) to sponsor the event for the first time in 1985, a 60ft yacht was considered to be a big beast. Fast-forward 30 years however, and the Swan 601 @Robas (FRA) is now the smallest in this impressive international line-up, while the 219ft Hetairos (CAY) is by far the largest.

Dockside Ambiance (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Dockside Ambiance (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Much of the fleet has been out training on the azure waters of the Costa Smeralda, enjoying the stunning scenery of Northern Sardinia’s wild and beautiful coastline but more importantly, making final checks on crew manoeuvres and refining the final 1/10th of a knot of boat speed. Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark must be happy with how Comanche (USA) is going right now. The recent line honours winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race has been designed primarily with offshore performance in mind, but this mean-looking 100-footer has been clocking speeds up to 30 knots during the strong wind lead-up to the regatta.

Jim Clark’s COMANCHE (USA) testing ahead of the start of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2015 (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The navigators have one of the trickiest jobs at the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, being required to keep a weather eye on the clouds above, as well as know what rocky dangers lurk beneath the surface. Tom Addis is one of the big-name navigators at this event, the Volvo Ocean Race veteran working at the back of Carla Cornelli’s Wally 107 Kenora (BVI). “Today’s mistral dies away and our attention turns to the south with a low pressure forming just north of Sicily. This will bring strengthening north-easterly to northerly breeze over us over the next few days.”

Tom Addis, navigator of Maximilian Klink's CARO Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Tom Addis, navigator of Maximilian Klink’s CARO Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

The week certainly looks set to offer up a good mix of conditions, which is exactly what most teams want. Among the five racing classes, the most closely fought contest is expected to come in the Rolex Maxi 72 World Championship. Newest of the six 72-footers is Dieter Schön’s Momo (GER) which has notched up some impressive victories in her debut season, not least winning her division at last month’s Rolex Fastnet Race. But Momo’s tactician Markus Wieser certainly doesn’t consider his team as the favourites. “All six boats are going very fast, and you couldn’t ask for better crews than you see here this week,” said the German professional. “Yes, Momo has had a very good season, although we were 2nd at the Giraglia Rolex Cup. This is the one that matters more than any other event, though. It’s the World Championship, and it’s one that we would love to win.”

Wieser has been impressed with Bella Mente’s (USA) boat speed in training, and owner Hap Fauth has put together an impressive team in his bid to repeat a sweet victory back in 2012. America’s Cup finallist Terry Hutchinson is calling tactics alongside other Cup veterans like navigator Ian Moore and strategist Adrian Stead. “The racing this week is going to be a game of feet and inches, where you take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small,” said Hutchinson. “You can see why people can’t get enough of this place – great racing, organised by one of the top three yacht clubs in the world.”

40 teams attended the Skippers' Briefing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

40 teams attended the Skippers’ Briefing (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

This evening the Skippers’ Briefing took place on the top deck of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, with Principal Race Officer Peter Craig welcoming owners, skippers and crews for what promises to be a challenging, exhilarating week’s competition. “If there’s a better place in the world to go yacht racing, I don’t know about it,” said Craig. “The venue, the yacht club, are fantastic. And you look at the calibre of sailors here – bow to stern, these boats are packed with the very best in the world.”

Five days’ racing are scheduled from Monday 7 September to Saturday 12 September, with a lay day on Thursday.

Hetairos by Carlo Borlenghi

With a LOA of 66.7 meters, HETAIROS is the biggest boat in the fleet (Photo by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

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Entry List 2015 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup – Porto Cervo, Italy

@ROBAS
ARAGON
BLACK BETTY
BULTACO
CARO
COMANCHE
GALMA
GAETANA
GENIE OF THE LAMP
GERONIMO
GRANDE ORAZIO by Pioneer Investments
H2O
HETAIROS
INOUI
J ONE
KENORA
LUNZ AM MEER
LYRA
MAGIC CARPET CUBED
MY WAY 60
NAHITA
OPEN SEASON
RYOKAN 2
SENSEI
SHIRLAF
SOLLEONE
SPECTRE
SUPERNIKKA
TANGO G
TILAKKHANA
TUGELA
VIRIELLA
WALLY ῆO
WINDFALL
Y3K
BELLA MENTE
CAOL ILA R
JETHOU
MOMO
PROTEUS
ROBERTISSIMA III

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Comanche has unfinished business with Wild Oats XI after being bested by just a few miles due to light airs in the middle of the course (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

As far as the America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill is concerned, there is now unfinished business between Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours winner Wild Oats XI and the US supermaxi she beat across the finish line, Comanche.

Spithill was one of six helmsmen on Comanche.

“We can’t leave it at that,” he declared after finishing in Hobart. He says that on his watch this morning the boat reached a top speed of 32 knots and knows what she is capable of.

“Everybody got to see the true potential of this boat at the start. I remember looking up at Kenny (Ken Read, the skipper) and he just had this huge grin from ear to ear. Unfortunately we just didn’t see those sort of conditions again until the end of Bass Strait.”

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA), 2nd across the line in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Finishish Line COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Phot by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Of course, young James doesn’t pay the bills. Logistically it is impossible for Comanche to come back to Australia next year but is 2016 likely?

Skipper Ken Read deferred to co-owner Kristy Hinze Clark who said it was a matter for the Big Chief, husband Jim Clark.

Ken: “Kristy, they want to know if we’ll be back next year?”

Kristy: “They’ll have to talk to big chief!”

Ken: “Big chief is not going to talk about that now!”

Read reflected on the crucial point of the race – the high-pressure ridge in Bass Strait.

“We were about a quarter of the way into Bass Strait and expecting a westerly breeze, and all of a sudden Stan (navigator Stan Honey) came up from down below and said ‘I just got a new weather file, this is not looking good’.

“We were two miles ahead of them, in bumpy seas, and they literally went by us, probably going a knot or two faster at the time, and they just sailed into more pressure and just kept extending on the whole fleet.

“Both boats sailed a flawless race; but they had their day. They had 12 hours where they had Wild Oats’ weather, but that’s racing.

“You can already see Comanche is already changing sailing as we speak,” Read said.

So after this first race have they identified any changes they will make to the boat?

“Here’s the start of my list,” he said, holding up a piece of paper with top-secret to-dos written on it.

“It’s brand new, we’re just starting. Before this race started, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We knew we had a good boat right off the start line, the way it just took off on that windy reach.

“Unfortunately we’ve always known we had that one blemish in light air, and that became a dominant feature in the race, so that’s unfortunate for us.”

Designer Xavier Guilbaud said he couldn’t take his eyes off the yacht tracker, keeping notes as Comanche changed angles and the wind circled the compass.

And, he was a bit more forthcoming with his list.

“I’m excited to see Ken’s list, but on top of my own list, what I can see, is work on the weight of the boat to try to lighten her up a bit more, to increase performances in light winds,” he said.

“I’ll discuss with the guys here, a little later, the little bits and pieces on the deck to improve manoeuvres, how the boat is sailed. Then on the sail configuration; how to use each sail, in which condition and improve the sail shapes.

“I think we do have a record breaker on our hands. The real answer will be in June next year when it does the Transatlantic Race. I think the boat is really fast.”

Read was effusive in his praise of the Wild Oats’ crew.

“Wild Oats deserves all its success,” he said, though fate had been against them on Day 2 in Bass Strait when Wild Oats made the better of negotiating a weather ridge that proved the defining moment of the race.

“This was their day; they had their 12 hours; they had Wild Oats’ weather; but that is boat racing,” he said.

“They deserve their eighth record, Lord knows we tried hard to take it from them. This team, our team, did an unbelievable job, and special credit to the boat builders and the design team because Lord knows we tried to break it, and it wouldn’t break.”

By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR Media

 WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start - WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards  (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

WILD OATS XI (AUS) set the actual racecourse record in 2012 Race Start – WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

 

Wild Oats XI  leads the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet in for a record eighth line honours win.  Wild Oats Xi finished the race in a time of  :  2 Days,  2 Hours,  3 Minutes and 26 seconds.

The only yacht capable of denying Wild Oats XI and Mark Richards an 8th win and a place in history was the American Maxi Comanche.  Ken Read and crew gave their best but weren’t able to close the 10 mile gap in the final stretch through Storm Bay and the Derwent River and to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania.

The Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI extended her lead throughout the second night, taking advantage of a high-pressure ridge in the Bass Strait. Wild Oats XI’s lead proved to big for the Comanche team to overcome.

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

COMANCHE (USA) crashing through the waves on the way south to Tasmania Race Start COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

The remainder of the fleet are compressed coming down the New South Wales coast and expected to benefit from the dramatic increase in breeze forecast from Sunday evening to Monday morning.

Of the 117 yachts which started the race, nice have been forced to retire. The Maxi Perpetual Loyal

Follow the race on the live tracker:

http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

 

 

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

Photo By: Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi

 

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Opera House and Harbour Bridge as impressive background for the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart (Phot by Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi)

Seven hours into the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Jim Clark’s 100-ft Maxi Comanche(USA) leads the fleet. A memorable edition of the 628-nm race appears certain, with the contest between the fleet’s five Maxi yachts living up to the pre-race hype.
At 8:00pm local time, Comanche leads seven-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI by one nautical mile, with Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 just a few miles behind the leading duo. Overnight the breeze is forecast to lighten as a high pressure system approaches. How the frontrunners navigate this transition could be a critical factor in their race.

Comanche makes mark

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Racing COMANCHE, Sail n: 12358, Bow n: 58, Design: Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp, Owner: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, Skipper: Ken Read (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

A fleet of 117 international yachts graced today’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race start. The thousands of spectators lining the shoreline in Sydney were treated to a dramatic start as the leading yachts powered their way out of Sydney Harbour and began the famous 628-nautical mile offshore race to Hobart.

Celebrations for the 70th edition of the race commenced with a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart competitors before the race start. A fitting tribute to the race, which has become an international icon since its inauguration in 1945.
Comanche had an incredible start reaching the first course mark at record speed.  Race record holder Wild Oats XI gallantly tried to keep pace, watching in awe as Comanche laid down an early indicator of her potential. “Look at that thing go!,” screamed Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards.

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART  Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

WILD OATX XI (AUS) SAILING TOWARDS HOBART Racing WILD OATS XI, Sail n: AUS10001, Bow n: XI, Design: Reichel Pugh 100, Owner: Robert Oatley, Skipper: Mark Richards (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster )

“We couldn’t be more ready at this stage,” admitted Comanche skipper Ken Read shortly before the race start. “The team has done a Herculean effort to get the boat ready. We are here to compete, it’s the fun part of our job.”

“Going into a southerly the first night is always a bit of a challenge,” said Mark Richards going into the race. “(The boat) being ten years old though is a little bit of an advantage for us as we know the boat very well.”

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI'S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION  Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

MANOUCH MOSHAYEDI’S RIO 100 (USA), ONE OF FIVE 100FT MAXIS IN CONTENTION Race Start RIO 100, Sail n: USA2121, Bow n: 98, Design: Bakewell-White 100, Owner: Manouch Moshayedi, Skipper: Manouch Moshayedi (Photo by Rolex / Daniel Forster)

Shortly after the start, Peter Isler, navigator on Manouch Moshayedi’s RIO 100 reported: “We are definitely learning our boat in these conditions. It’s very rough, sailing upwind in 25-27 knots, pounding hard into short, steep waves.”

The rough conditions have proved demanding for a number of the fleet with four retirements already recorded.

The race record for leading yachts to beat is 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, set by Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI in 2012.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart is organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) and has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002.

Follow the progress of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht fleet at: http://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/tracker/

MATT ALLEN'S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE  Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

MATT ALLEN’S ICHI BAN DURING THE FIRST EVENING OF THE RACE Racing ICHI BAN, Sail n: AUS01, Bow n: O1, Design: Carkeek 60, Owner: Matt Allen, Skipper: Matt Allen (Photo by Rolex/Daniel Forster)

 

Wild Oats XI (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Wild Oats XI (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Entries for the 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race officially closed on the evening of Friday 31 October. The resulting line-up of 119 yachts – set to be the event’s largest in a decade – is befitting of such a historic occasion. The presence of five 100 foot Maxis will steal the news headlines, but the impressive nature of the fleet stretches far beyond the fastest boats. Adding lustre to the occasion are a host of yachts that have won the race before, ten international entrants, and an array of Australian crews spearheaded by sailors with over 40 editions of the race to their name.

In keeping with tradition the race starts at 13:00 local time on 26 December, Boxing Day, from Sydney Harbour. The destination is Hobart, Tasmania over a famous 628-nautical mile racecourse. The competition has been sponsored by Rolex since 2002 and forms an integral part of its triumvirate of offshore races comprising the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Comanche raider

At the front of the fleet, the quest for line honours promises to be open and competitive. Bob Oatley’s 100-ft Wild Oats XI has been the fastest yacht on the water in seven of the last nine race editions. Experience, guile and knowledge of the conditions ensure the Mark Richards-skippered yacht starts as favourite in the race to be first to finish.

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Anthony Bell, line honours winner in 2011, will be one of those hoping to knock Wild Oats XI off her stride. His yacht Perpetual Loyal has strong pedigree in the race and an excellent crew, which includes 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby.

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

Comanche VPLP 100 (Photo © George Bekris)

A layer of the unknown has been introduced with the entry from the United States of Jim Clark’s Comanche. Clark has made a bold statement – shipping his brand new 100 foot Ken Read-skippered yacht to Sydney immediately following its October launch in New England. This will be the boat’s first race – the ultimate baptism of fire! Clark has sought to dilute expectations, asserting Comanche was not designed with the Rolex Sydney Hobart in mind, and pointing to a lack of preparation time: “The boat and crew will have had only a couple of weeks on the water before we ship it to Australia. There’s a lot of work to do before the race start. In the short term, I don’t have high expectations, but in the long term, I think this boat could really set a mark.”

COMANCHE FIRST SAIL VIDEO 

The fourth 100-ft Maxi to watch is Ragamuffin 100. Owner Syd Fischer, at 87 years of age and with 45 Rolex Sydney Hobarts to his name, has virtually rebuilt  Ragamuffin 100 fitting its original deck to a new hull. The ultimate competitor, including line honours winner at the Rolex China Sea Race last April, he has more knowledge of the race than almost any other entrant. Completing the line up of 100 foot Maxis, is the outsider – American entrant RIO 100 previously competed in the race under the guise of Lahana and counts expert American navigator Peter Isler as part of its crew.

Chasing Victoire

The history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart proves that the overall winner of the race can come from anywhere within the fleet. Prevailing conditions often determine whether the larger or smaller yachts are favoured. In 2013, Darryl Hodgkinson’s 50-ft Victoire claimed victory following in the wake of a diverse range of recent winners Two True (40-ft, 2009), Loki (60-ft, 2011) and Wild Oats XI (100-ft, 2012). Victoire is seeking to become the first boat to successfully retain the Tattersall’s Cup since the mid-1960s.

International influence

In keeping with its international reputation and wide global interest, the Rolex Sydney Hobart always welcomes an array of foreign entrants who have to overcome the added logistical challenge of shipping or sailing their boat to Sydney. Along with American entrants Comanche andRIO 100, yachts from the Cayman Islands, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and the United Kingdom add foreign glamour to the 119-strong fleet.

NIKATA  in heavy seas (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

NIKATA in heavy seas (Photo by Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi)

Festive atmosphere

Pre-race celebrations will include a Parade of Sail of historic Rolex Sydney Hobart entrants before hundreds of thousands of spectators ashore and on the water in Sydney. The race start will be broadcast live throughout Australia and also webcast live to a global audience. Given the wide interest in this 70th edition, victory will have an extra coat of fulfilment.