VIDEO: First test for Comanche on Sydney Harbor

Published on December 9th, 2014

A large spectator fleet watched Bob Oatley’s 100 foot maxi Wild Oats XI declare that Sydney Harbour is still her back yard, the brand new, revolutionary American upstart, Comanche notwithstanding. Wild Oats XI sliced across the finish line beside Fort Denison 1 minute 22 seconds ahead of Comanche for yet another line honours victory in the annual SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on December 9, having led the fleet for much of the race.

Skipper Mark Richards steered Wild Oats XI to a perfect start and quickly accelerated ahead until a fouled first spinnaker set allowed Comanche and Perpetual Loyal to ease past her on the approach to the first mark, with Peter Harburg’s blisteringly fast Volvo 70 Black Jack making up the quadrella.

Oatley will enjoy today’s win, but he will be well aware that the winds will be stronger offshore, the seas bigger and more suited to the big power hitters than the harbour. And each week the crew on Comanche will learn more and more about their brand new, radical boat and how to sail her.

“We were very impressed with Comanche,” Richards conceded after the race. “The conditions suited us rather than her. They went upwind very well. They pointed very high. “

With her huge beam Comanche should be fast downwind, but in an essentially upwind and close hauled race today she gave little away to Wild Oats XI.

“We were very pleased with how the boat went upwind,” Comanche’s skipper Ken Read said. “Every day we sail this boat we learn a huge amount. That is why you will see us out practicing so much before Boxing Day. We could not have been happier with how Comanche went. She was designed to do exactly the opposite of what we had today.”

“This boat is a beast. Do we know how it will handle (the tough conditions off the New South Wales coast and Bass Strait), will it stay in one piece? We have no idea.”

Full reportPhotos

Video published on Dec 9, 2014.

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