Wild Oats XI may have added yet another Line Honors victory to her long and illustrious career, knocking back the nastiest fleet of challengers to her throne yet in the SOLAS Big Boat Series. It’s hard to take the results too seriously of what is essentially a practice start for the Hobart, but there’s no doubt at all that Loyal (a/k/a Speedboat) had WOXI’s number in around 20 knots of breeze, sailing away from the 100 foot maxi upwind and down. That is, until a late douse of a headsail that owner Anthony Bell called a “North R-1” that turned rapidly into $150 grand worth of North-branded tarpaulin. Here’s the best video of the sail implosion, while here’s some from a different angle, and here’s some more. Note the Black Jack (ex-Telefonica) flying down the track ahead of both maxis; when you remember that Volvo 70s own pretty much every offshore monohull speed record, you find it harder and harder to dismiss them regardless of the length advantage for the 100 footers.
Bell said they already had another big reaching sail being sourced from the US; either way, it was a great outing for the big JuanK boat that perhaps will presage what we’ll see in the race: The Speedboat hauling the mail until she blows a gasket, when either WOXI, Beau Geste, or one of the Volvos will sail on by. As much as we dig the thing’s beastly nature and raw look, we have to remember that Speedboat/Rambler/Loyal has broken in more races than she’s finished. Like a Volvo 70 only more so, you spend most of the time slowing the boat down rather than speeding her up.
Even the bookies agree; betting odds for Loyal have decreased to just over 2$, while WOXI is up to 1.80. Place your bets and post your thoughts on everything Hobart in the all-encompassing thread, and note that Sailing Anarchy is finally doing something about the canned coverage of the Hobart we all suffer through every year: We’re sending The Cleans down to bring you interviews, photos, and live (or near-live) video of the dock and start for the 2013 race, making it the most comprehensively covered Hobart Race in recent memory. With the support of McConaghy Boats (and using their Facebook Page to bring you rich reports from the Harbor and beyond) and with embedded reporters throughout the fleet, our coverage begins on Christmas day and runs right through New Year’s.
Photo thanks to “Brit down under”, with a full gallery of his pics here.