Fly­ing Finn eyes favourite Wild Oats in Syd­ney to Ho­bart

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

SYD­NEY:

Aus­tralia’s blue wa­ter Syd­ney to Ho­bart clas­sic will this year see the dom­i­na­tion of eight-time line hon­ours win­ner Wild Oats chal­lenged by a Scan­di­na­vian dark horse and a Korean dubut among more Asian en­tries.

Four su­per­maxis will tackle the gru­elling 628-nau­ti­cal-mile race among a field of 93, or­gan­is­ers said yes­ter­day, with lo­cal hero Wild Oats the favourite.

Skip­per Mark Richards can’t for­get last year’s shock re­tire­ment with a split mast and said im­prove­ments had been made.

“We’ve learnt a lot from last year,” he said at the of­fi­cial launch for the De­cem­ber 26 race.

“Our prepa­ra­tion this year has been fan­tas­tic,” in­clud­ing thou­sands of miles of sail­ing and some “tweak­ing”.

Richards has re­moved the yacht’s hor­i­zon­tal hy­dro­foil, ex­plain­ing that a new 11-me­tre long for­ward sec­tion of the hull negated the need for it. It also makes the ves­sel 300 kilo­grams lighter.

Wild Oats XI, which will be rac­ing in its 12th Syd­ney to Ho­bart, “is still a great ma­chine,” he added.

Finn Ludde Ing­vall took line hon­ours in 2000 and 2004 and he is back for 2016 with Ni­corette com­pletely re­designed and re­named CQS. The 90-foot maxi has grown into a 100-foot su­per­maxi in a bid to ri­val the world’s fastest yachts, with leg­endary New Zealand skip­per Chris Dixon at the helm.

Ing­vall, who lives in Syd­ney, rates Wild Oats “the best yacht in the world”, de­spite its early re­tire­ment last year al­low­ing US su­per­maxi Co­manche to win in two days, eight hours, 58 min­utes and 30 sec­onds.

“It’s not the same boat,” he told re­porters about CQS. “From the mast for­ward, it’s new and from the steer­ing back­wards it’s new. She’s a very rad­i­cal thing, in­cor­po­rat­ing a lot of ideas.

“We should be good in light airs,” he added. “In some con­di­tions we will be up there but we are fo­cus­ing on tak­ing the boat to the fin­ish line.”

That’s the am­bi­tion of most en­trants for the 72nd ver­sion of the race from Syd­ney down Aus­tralia’s east coast and across the wild Bass Strait to Ho­bart.

AR­RIVE IN ONE PIECE

An­other re­badged su­per­maxi is Scal­ly­wag, now owned by Hong Kong busi­ness­man Seng Huang Lee, which came se­cond in line hon­ours last year as Raga­muf­fin.

Su­per­maxi Per­pet­ual Loyal is also back for an­other tilt after pulling out of the pre­vi­ous two races with dam­age.

Among 12 in­ter­na­tional en­tries, the Korea Ocean Sail­ing Club has char­tered a 52-footer and named it Sonic for the na­tion’s first Syd­ney to Ho­bart.

Team Korea is mostly from Seoul and Bu­san with ex­pe­ri­ence from the Amer­ica’s Cup, while skip­per Kwang­min ‘An­drew’ Rho con­tested last year’s race aboard Fly­ing Fish Arc­tos, the or­gan­is­ers said. China has two en­tries for 2016 with Dong Qing back with Ark323 and a new crew after a stormy de­but ended in early re­tire­ment for the coun­try’s first ever en­try last year. “We did not ex­pect 50knot winds,” Qing said of the sav­age souther­lies that blasted the race in 2015, with dozens of boats pulling out. “This year we are go­ing to be bet­ter.” Over­all hand­i­cap hon­ours went to Aus­tralia’s Balance last De­cem­ber with the TP52 com­pet­ing again, hop­ing for a se­cond suc­ces­sive crown. “We will be do­ing our damnedest to get there in one piece,” said owner Paul Clitheroe. —AFP

SYD­NEY: Rolex Syd­ney to Ho­bart yacht race 2015 win­ner Paul Clitheroe, owner/skip­per of Balance, and Mark Richards, skip­per Wild Oats XI pose with the tro­phy at the Cruis­ing Yacht Club of Aus­tralia in Syd­ney yes­ter­day. Aus­tralia’s gru­el­ing Syd­ney to Ho­bart yacht race, one of the world’s most fa­mous races starts on Box­ing Day and is the 72nd edi­tion of the epic con­test. — AFP

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