by Ian Grant
Bob Oatley’s super–maxi Wild Oats X1 remains poised to rewrite the record books in Australia’s premier coastal passage races the Audi Sydney to Gold Coast and the Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel in coming weeks.
WILD OATS XI
The Mark Richards helmed Wild Oats X1 the present record holder and five times line honours winner of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race has the proven boat speed to wrap up both records before heading to race in the warm waters of the Whitsunday Islands as a feature entry in the 2011 Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.
Her challenge starts with the Audi Sydney to Gold Coast race at 1pm on Saturday July 30 hopefully sailing the 384 nautical mile course before moderate to fresh spinnaker sailing winds to reach the finish line off Southport’s Main Beach before the record time expires 4-35 pm on Sunday.
Previously unstable coastal weather conditions have left the power sailing Wild Oats X1 falling short of breaking the 27 hour 35 minute 3 second record set by the George Snow skippered Brindabella in 1999.
But long range forecasters are suggesting that the cold Southerlies which have gusted to gale strength along the New South Wales coast this week could be similar to the expected official race forecast.
However time will tell if Mark Richards and his 23 member Wild Oats X1 crew will dock at the Southport Yacht Club Marina by completing the testing tactical race with an average speed of slightly better than 13.92 knots.
They can expect to be kept honest by the Peter Millard skippered older generation maxi Lahana which earlier this year took line honours in the Brisbane to Gladstone classic after winning a tactical arm wrestle against the smaller Mark Richards helmed Wild Oats X to become the present Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel race record holder.
Lahana survived a late charge from Wild Oats X to secure a breath taking 22 second line honours win which set the record average benchmark of 12.8 knots in August last year.
Skipper Peter Millard has never stepped back from a challenge and has the former New Zealand built and owned Lahana showing improved performances in every offshore race.
But the Lahana crew will be hard pressed to protect their line honours record from the challenge of the Wild Oats X1 crew when the start signal is fired at noon on August 5th.
Mark Richards will have a handy reference to his tactical notes from last year and apart from making sure the deeper draft Wild Oats X1 clears the shoals in Moreton Bay should steer Australia’s fastest maxi to a comfortable line honours win with a target set at reaching the Rosslyn Bay finish line off the Keppel Bay marina before 3-11-22 pm on Saturday August 6th to claim the record.