VIDEO: Wild Oats XI and Comanche

Published on December 2nd, 2014

Sitting side by side at Woolwich Docks in Sydney, Australia, it is easy to see the changes in yacht design thinking over the past few years. Wild Oats XI, the older Super-Maxi will this year fight for line honours against Comanche, the latest maxi built. Video published on Dec 1, 2014.


Wild Oats XI and Comanche. Photo courtesy of Nic Douglass/Adventures of a Sailor Girl.

From the Sydney Hobart Race website:

comancheThis is possibly one of the most talked about entries for this 70th Anniversary Race. This new 100-foot supermaxi is designed by Verdier Yacht Design & VPLP to push the boundaries of technology with the ultimate goal of taking line honours this year. The boat is the culmination of a two-year project. Built at Hodgdon Yachts in Maine, Comanche was sailed for the first time on October 13 and will be spiced with Australian flavour partly because her co-owner is Kristy Hinze-Clark, a former supermodel from Australia married to Jim Clark. Her mainsail also reflects Comanche’s Australian connection, as does Aussie crew; boat captain Casey Smith, Ryan Godrey in the pit and Chris Maxted “floating”.

Other big names are Stan Honey (navigator) and New Zealand’s Kevin Halrap on tactics. Comanche is skippered by renowned US sailor Ken Read with 21 international crew. Jim Clark, an American entrepreneur and computer scientist, founded several prominent Silicon Valley technology companies, such as Silicon Graphics Inc. and Netscape Communications Corporation.

Wild Oats XI
wild-oats-xiWild Oats XI is the most successful yacht in the 70-year history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. She secured her seventh line honours victory under the guidance of Mark Richards in last year’s race. In 2012 she broke her own race record, which now stands at 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes 12 seconds, and won the race overall. It was the second time the supermaxi had achieved this historic treble, and the only boat to do so twice in the race’s history.

Originally launched in December 2, 2005, the Reichel/Pugh designed Wild Oats XI has once again been modified for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Her bow has been streamlined, she will carry a new hydrofoil wing, and will be fitted with two new high-tech sails – a mainsail and a ‘code zero’ headsail. These modifications are aimed at keeping the nine-year-old yacht competitive against more recent designs. Richards and the crew now affectionately refer to their charge as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’, because of the number of appendages she boasts: a hydrofoil wing, a retractable forward centreboard, two retractable daggerboards, a canting keel, and the conventional rudder at the stern.

Wild Oats XI still holds the record for the most consecutive line honours wins – four – from 2005 to 2008, surpassing Morna’s record of three in a row achieved from 1946 to 1948. She also holds the race record for the CYCA’s Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race (22 hours, 3 minutes, 46 seconds, set in 2012) and the CYCA’s Cabbage Tree Island Race (12 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds, set in 2012). Richards and his crew will need to muster all their resources this year as four other supremely competitive supermaxis and their crews – including the new Comanche 100-footer from America – will be vying for a line honours win. Wild Oats XI’s navigator, Juan Vila, was navigator for the victorious Alinghi crew in the 2007 America’s Cup match.

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