Ocean Sailing for the Holidays
As if the thrilling two-boat match race for the lead of the Vendée Globe isn’t enough, sailing fans are going to be absolutely spoiled this Christmas with not just one, but possibly two more races to follow this holiday season.
Down under, the annual Supermaxi showdown Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is surrounded by hype and anticipation. Perennial line-honors winner and five-time Hobart champion Wild Oats XI is back to reclaim her title as line-honors champion in the annual Boxing Day classic. The custom R/P 100 has been modified to include a pair of vertical winglets on the back of the keel bulb and a light-air daggerboard on the bow.
Drastic times call for drastic measures, and after an embarrassing loss to Syd Fisher’s Ragamuffin Loyal in last year’s race, Bob Oatley and the entire Wild Oats crew are obviously determined to redeem themselves. Ragamuffin Loyal meanwhile looks like a long shot to defend her title as the team is currently scrambling to repair their mast and rigging after crashing it into a bridge! The dark horse this year is Grant Wharrington and his Wild Thing. The 98-ft Supermaxi has been chopped in half, widened and lengthened to 100 feet’. She’s longer, beamier and has a more powerful sail plan, and now has six female crew members onboard — the most women ever to race on the same Supermaxi!
Back stateside, the modified VOR 70 Maserati has posted up in the heart of New York’s financial district at Manhattan’s North Cove Marina to attempt to break Yves Parlier’s 14-year-old New York-to-San Francisco record of 57d, 3h, 2m. The route, which takes sailors 13,225 miles from New York to San Francisco via a wrong-way rounding of Cape Horn, will be attempted by a crew of nine, including American Barcelona World Race veteran Ryan Breymaier and his BWR co-skipper, German sailor Boris Hermann.
Skippered by 1999 Around Alone Champion Giovanni Soldini, the crew has officially gone on stand-by status and expect to leave on Christmas Eve. “We don’t expect the right weather conditions before December 19”, explains the veteran Italian skipper. "The best for us would be to set off behind a low pressure with northwest winds of 25-30 knots. It’s a cold wind arriving from Canada."
So kick your feet back, grab a glass of egg nog, turn on the Vendée tracker, watch the Sydney Hobart start live over the web on December 26, and hope that Soldini and his boys get the weather window they’re looking for to leave Christmas Eve! This Christmas is going to be great!
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