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Wild Oats Beats Comanche in Sydney Hobart

January 2, 2015 – Hobart, Tasmania


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

It's obvious by this photo that The Rolex Sydney Hobart Race is a very big deal in Tasmania. Seen here, Wild Oats XI steams to the finish.

© 2017 Rolex / Carlo Berlinghi

If you've been consumed with holiday festivities lately, you may not have followed the action in the 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Here's a brief recap: 

Although the race, which began December 26, had 117 starters, all eyes were on just two boats: Australian Bob Oatley's perennial line honors contender Wild Oats XI, an Aussie-built Reichel Pugh 100 now modified with a hydrofoil wing, and the brand new VPLP-designed 100-ft supermaxi Comanche, built in the US at Hodgdon Yachts for Netscape founder Jim Clark and his wife Kristy Hinze ClarkThe matchup of these two 100-footers was arguably the most highly anticipated boat-on-boat battle since America’s Cup 34. In hot and sunny breeze-on conditions, both boats nailed the start — with Comanche skippered by Ken Read and Wild Oats helmed by Mark Richards — and quickly left the rest of the fleet in their wake. Notably, Stan Honey was navigator aboard Comanche, while Iain Murray (of AC 34 and 35) reportedly served as strategist aboard Wild Oats

The highly touted title fight between the two supermaxis took little time to materialize, with the newer and significantly wider Comanche unfurling a massive gennaker and leaning on all of her form stability to extend to an early lead over WO XI on their way out of the Sydney Heads.


Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark's 100-ft supermaxi Comanche roared south like a freight train, but could not attain her team's goal of taking line honors.  

© 2017 Rolex / Carlo Berlinghi

Once out into the ocean, both boats continued their private match race ahead of the fleet as they bashed their way south in strong conditions and confused seas caused by the south-setting East Australia Current opposing 25-30 knots of southwesterly breeze. As the breeze gradually dropped off ahead of a ridge of high pressure, the skinnier, lighter WO XI was able to ghost along while the heavier, beamier Comanche hobby-horsed in the leftover seas, sailing at roughly half the boat speed of her rival. Comanche’s small lead turned into more than a 40-mile deficit in the blink of an eye as her slippery Australian rival performed a vanishing act once it sailed out of the Bass Strait hole and into better pressure.

As the ridge moved east and northerly tailwinds built across the region, both boats lit the afterburners and began routinely clocking sustained speeds in the mid-20s. Comanche clawed back most of the miles she had lost, closing the gap to just 10 miles, but there simply wasn’t enough race track left to complete the comeback.


Although a veritable antique, the Farr 43 Wild Rose corrected out to take overall honors.  

© 2017 Rolex / Carlo Berlinghi

In the end, Wild Oats XI finished the race in 2d 2h 3m, just 8 hours off record pace, to claim her historic eighth line honors victory and secure her place in the record books as the most successful yacht in the 70-year history of the race. For Comanche, it was an impressive debut for a racing yacht that was built to smash records around the world. Overall corrected time honors went to Roger Hickman’s nearly 30-year-old Farr 43 Wild Rose, which was the original Wild Oats and also claimed the overall win in 1993.

The race’s only other West Coast entry, Manouch Moshayedi’s Rio100, put in an impressive performance to finish fourth on line honors ahead of her US debut in this year’s Transpac race. A team of 20+ recently completed a nine-month, seven-days-a week refit  on this former 98-footer at Cookson's in New Zealand. Modifications included a lifting keel, longer bowsprit, twin rudders and reconfigured steering positions. See complete results and info here.

- ronnie simpson

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Classy Deadline the 15th


Two Die in Catalina Storm

January 2, 2015 – Avalon Harbor, Catalina, CA

Huge breaking waves and winds above 40 knots battered Catalina Island December 30, taking the lives of two men: Harbor Patrol assistant Tim Mitchell, 39, and liveaboard boater Bruce Ryder, 53.

Described by residents as the worst storm to hit the island in years, if not decades, the storm conditions led to every boat in Avalon Harbor and beyond jerking at its mooring lines. At least four vessels were violently driven ashore. 


The winds and waves that battered Avalon Tuesday were the worst in recent memory. 

Photo Courtesy KTLA
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

According to eyewitnesses, Mitchell, a 14-year Avalon resident, had been working to save boats during the storm, and was on the deck of the dive vessel King Neptune, which he had formerly worked aboard, when he apparently fell overboard and was pinned between the boat and the rocks. Attempts by other harbor patrolmen to save his life were unsuccessful. His body was retrieved by divers late Wednesday morning. 

According to the coroner's office, Ryder died in a "water-related incident," but details are not yet clear. His body was seen floating at roughly 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, and was retrieved shortly afterwards. 

- latitude / andy

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Ad: Oakland Yacht Club

January 2, 2015 – Alameda, CA

Oakland Yacht Club/

© 2017 Oakland Yacht Club / www.oaklandyachtclub.net

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Weekend Racing Preview

January 2, 2015 – San Francisco Bay and Beyond

GGYC Midwinters boats sail through StFYC Opti fleet

This month's Golden Gate YC Midwinters is predicted to be Opti-free.

© 2017 / www.norcalsailing.com

With the New Year comes a new round of Midwinter races in Bay Area series. Golden Gate, Sequoia, and Vallejo Yacht Clubs will all run the third races in their midwinters on Saturday, and Monterey Peninsula YC will host the Mercury class for the Perry Cup Midwinters.

Willow and other SYC raceboats

A scene from November's Sausalito YC Midwinter race.

© 2017 Roxanne Fairbairn / roxshots.smugmug.com

On Sunday, Sausalito YC's Midwinter Series will continue, as will Richmond YC's Small Boat Midwinters, and Oakland YC's Sunday Brunch Series on the Estuary will begin.

2014 Key West Race Week

Exciting sailing in last year's Quantum Key West Race Week.

© 2017 Sharon Green / www.ultimatesailing.com

Quantum Key West Race Week on January 18-23 is now less than three weeks away. High-speed foiling catamarans, 72-ft Maxi yachts, one-designs from J/Boats and Melges, and the usual PHRF racers are among the entries. Are you going? We'd love to hear from West Coast sailors making the trek east.

- latitude / chris

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