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Rolex Sydney Hobart Race

ABN AMRO licks her wounds in portwhile Wold Oats XI stretches out across Bass Strait

27 December, 2006 10:29:00 PM AEDT | Racetime 01:09:29:00

Mike Sanderson, the skipper of the Volvo 70 ABN AMRO ONE has described the circumstances surrounding the dramatic dismasting of his round-the-world racer this morning.

Arriving in Ulladulla on the NSW south coast, Sanderson said that he and his crew were bitterly disappointed after having unexpectedly gotten ahead of race favourite Wild Oats XI.

“Just out of Sydney Heads we got some puff over 22 knots and we suddenly realised we were more in the hunt than we had thought,” said Sanderson.

“We saw Wild Oats XI with a reef and a small jib so we weren’t surprised we were going a little bit quicker.

“We were doing 11 to 12 knots through the water and the reason we were further offshore than the others is we were out there taking the gamble on the current.

“With the current we were doing 14 to 15 knots over the bottom.”

The price to be paid for looking for the current offshore was higher wind and bigger seas but Sanderson says the bigger conditions weren’t responsible for the dismasting.

“We had a fitting failure up around the second spreader,” he explained.

“We’re not sure what it was, but something broke and it all came tumbling down.

‘The rig didn’t compress but something broke up there.

“We’ve been out there in this stuff before a lot of times. The thing with these boats, they’re fully powered up in 15 knots of wind so there is no more load on the rig at 40 knots.

“Rig-wise we had very little sails - 2 reefs in the main and a staysail – so rig-wise we were in very comfortable mode.”

Sanderson said that in last night’s conditions of 35 knot southerly winds and rough seas, the sea state is what will do the damage.

“We were still in race mode,” he said.

“We’ve got some fantastic techniques for slowing down (the boat) when we need to but we were still in racing mode, still hammer down."

He does not believe the boat was being driven too hard for the conditions though.

“The fact is something broke on the mast that shouldn’t have happened,” said Sanderson.

“If we had delaminated the hull or broken a daggerboard it would be a whole different story.

“But this rig has been around the world and it has seen much worse than what it saw last night.

“Everyone is obviously bitterly disappointed but we’re here (in Ulladulla), everyone is in good physical shape, we’ve just got to get the job done and pack it up and get it back to Sydney.

“We’ve got another mast. If we were in full Volvo mode we’d be sailing tomorrow afternoon, no problems.”

Meanwhile, out on the race course, Wild Oats XI is steadily increasing her lead over Melbourne yacht Skandia as the two remaining maxis in the race surge across Bass Strait.

Wild Oats XI is reaching speeds of up to 13 knots in what are close to ideal conditions for these giant boats. However, over the past hour or so in particular Skandia has dropped off the pace noticeably as skipper Grant Wharington and his crew struggle to overcome the loss of the yacht’s canard, a sort of dagger board in front of the canting keel that is crucial when going to windward. The canard broke off with a loud crack about 3pm today - a huge disappointment for Wharington after his yacht had matched Wild Oats XI mile for mile all day.

By 8pm Skandia had fallen 20 nautical miles astern of Wild Oats XI, with the Volvo 70 Ichi Ban a further 10 miles behind her and closing.

Ichi Ban has moved into 1st m place on IRC handicap ahead of Wild Oats XI and Skandia.

In the PHS Division, Katinka leads Gillawa while in the hotly contested Sydney 38 one design division Challenge, skippered by veteran Melbourne yachtsman Lou Abrahams, competing in his 44th Rolex Sydney Hobart, is leading his former Sydney 38, Another Challenge.

Nine yachts have withdrawn from the race, with 69 yachts still racing.

2006 © Rolex | Sydney Hobart Race


Maximus and ABN AMRO dismasted

27 December, 2006 5:54:00 AM AEDT | Racetime 00:16:54:00

Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

© Photo credit: Daniel Forster / Rolex

Overnight the gruelling Rolex Sydney Hobart claimed the scalp of race leader and round the world Volvo 70 ABN AMRO ONE skippered by New Zealand yachtsman Mike Sanderson and a short time later Charles St Clair Brown and Bill Buckley’s 30m maxi Maximus was also dismasted.

At 0308hours this morning ABN AMRO ONE advised the race committee they had been dismasted in 30 knots of breeze and at 0330 hours Maximus also advised they had been dismasted south of Batemans Bay and had six injured crew aboard.

A police launch is currently heading out to assess the situation on Maximus and coordinate getting the injured crew off the New Zealand maxi which was contesting its first Rolex Sydney Hobart. A helicopter is on standby and pending police assessment may need to pick up and transfer some of the injured crew.

ABN AMRO ONE not only contested the Volvo 2005-06 Ocean Race, they won it. Having faced some of the toughest waters on the planet, they have come unstuck early this morning well east of Montague Island on the NSW far south coast.

All the crew are OK although obviously disappointed, particularly as they were leading Wild Oats XI by five nautical miles when the incident occurred.

Mike Sanderson commented: “We are all bitterly disappointed. We had a great first night on the water and we had managed to keep right up there with the other maxis. The most important thing is of course that all the crew are safe and we have had no injuries – we are heading back towards Sydney and hope to be there as soon as possible.”

Between 1am and 2am this morning, ABN AMRO ONE, which was well east of the rhumbline took the race lead from Wild Oats XI which had led the fleet since the 1.00pm start on Sydney Harbour yesterday afternoon.

ABN AMRO ONE cut away their rig and dropped it over the side. They are currently motoring back to Sydney.

Maximus still has the rig attached but this morning will attempt to cut it away in daylight.

A third retirement, Endorfin, suffered steering gear failure overnight and is heading for Sydney.

Wild Oats XI has resumed its position at the head of the fleet and is currently four miles ahead of Grant Wharington’s Skandia.

Rolex | Sydney Hobart Race


Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

© Photo credit: Daniel Forster / Rolex

Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

© Photo credit: Daniel Forster / Rolex

Wild Oats leads 78-strong fleet after spectacular start in the Rolex Sydney Hobart

Press Release Regattanews.com
December 26, 2006

As a spectacle to prise Sydney residents and visitors away from their Boxing Day BBQs, today's start of the 62nd Rolex Sydney Hobart could not have been better: a scorching sun, a respectable if chilly breeze, Sydney Harbour with its intricate topography and familiar landmarks such as the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop and a dense crush of spectator craft clearly delineating the race track out to the open sea.

While expectations of a spinnaker start were high, in the end the wind was more southeast than southwest and had piped up to 16-18 knots, rather than the forecast 10-12, causing the fleet to close reach out towards Sydney Heads at pace. With the 78 strong fleet starting as one but on two different lines, among the big boats on the northern line it was Bob Oatley's line honours favourite Wild Oats XI that led off the leeward end of line with ABN AMRO One and particularly Grant Wharington's Skandia initially on station off her weather aft quarter.

Wild Oats XI reached the turning mark between Sydney Heads, 1.9 miles away in just 6 minutes 51 seconds, ahead of her two other 30m rivals, Skandia and Maximus (Charles Brown and Bill Buckley), the latter having chosen the opposite side of the course where they found the wind less strong. The Volvo Open 70s ABN AMRO One and Ichi Ban were in hot pursuit. Once out into the open sea Maximus, the highest rated boat in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart, slowed when she suffered a problem with her jib halyard resulting in a crewman being hoisted promptly to the masthead to resolve the issue. The Kiwi maxi quickly recovered and by 1700 had overhauled Grant Wharington's Skandia.

Further back in the fleet, Geoff Ross' brand new 55 footer Yendys was leading the charge on the water between the 50-footers, a mile ahead of arch-rival Stephen Ainsworth's 60ft Loki at 1700. In the warm-up races prior to this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart, Yendys had proved to be the weaker boat in lighter winds. Shortly before leaving the dock this morning, owner Geoff Ross reckoned this was only a temporary teething problem. "I think this boat is actually quite good in light air, we're just figuring out how to make her go, so we're not too bothered by that thought. Occupying our mind is making sure we are in the right spot at the right time."

In the fight between the Cookson 50s, Ray Roberts' Quantum Racing, sailing against the bigger boats in IRC Division 0 was only a mile ahead of Michael Hiatt's Living Doll in Division 1, the latter racing with her canting keel fixed to improve her rating.

This morning Quantum Racing's star crew American Dee Smith was anticipating a "cold, wet and very upwind" Rolex Sydney Hobart. "It'll be big waves on the first day and hopefully calming down a bit. It is mostly upwind and it should be a big boat race but you never know until you get there." The Cookson 50 has a canting keel but differs from the canting keel Wild Oats XI and the Volvo Open 70s as she has no daggerboard or forward rudder to prevent leeway. Instead she has a less efficient trim tab on the trailing edge of her keel; because of this Smith feels she is not the ideal upwind machine. "If it is straight upwind we are probably not as good; if we can get cracked off and use the stability of the canting keel we'll be fine. If we have to tack a lot we make a lot of leeway, so it is hard if we have to go straight upwind."

At 1700 Chris Bull's Jazz was following ABN AMRO and the two Volvo 60s Getaway-CMC Markets and DHL, as the most easterly boat within her size range. Contrary to Dee Smith's view, Bull said he was looking forward to a passage south to Hobart that would be "unusual in that we don't expect to get particularly wet and cold. It will be a tough race as usual tactically. It just won't be quite as tough as usual in terms of the severity of the weather."

Bull's team is yet another hoping that the wind will free up a bit, as their J/145 is better in reaching rather than upwind conditions. "We are going to sail the boat well in any condition and it is not going to be all upwind. There will quite a bit of upwind, but then you don't enter the Hobart race with any expectation other than that," said Bull.

While the start may have been a nice summer day, with moderate breeze and a slight chop off Sydney Heads, tonight's conditions are forecast to be more brutal. A low is residing out in the middle of the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand and yesterday contained 40 knot winds, from the south-southwest - upwind for the Rolex Sydney Hobart boats.

As Barry Hanstrum, Regional Director, NSW of Australian Bureau of Meteorology imparted this morning: "It is pretty clear that the toughest of the sailing conditions will happen tonight in the waters off the Illawarra coast where a 3-4m swell generated by the low that is moving away from Tasmania, will move up the NSW coast. At the same time the southwest wind will be at its peak - around 20 knots. So if we combine the 3-4m swell wave with a 1-2m sea, the significant wave height tonight around Wollongong will be around 5m. So obviously it will be large seas and a fairly stiff headwind for the fleet overnight tonight."

Fortunately after tonight the conditions are set to become much more benign and by the end of the week a high pressure system will move over Tasmania and this may allow the smaller boats the chance for a northeasterly tail wind to give them a fast run home. However given the conditions for the front runners, no one is expecting records to fall in this Rolex Sydney Hobart, as they did last year.

Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

© Photo credit: Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex



Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

Rolex | Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race

© Photo credit: Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Sydney/Hobart, AUS
December 26, 2006 - January 1, 2007

Press Release December 18th, 2006 from www.regattanews.com

Field is complete as last boats arrive in Sydney

Another line honours contender joined the ranks of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet this week. Offshore race veteran Ludde Ingvall was first to Hobart two years ago on his maxi Nicorette; this time he returns to the race course fighting for a new cause. Known for his numerous Whitbread Round the World Race campaigns, the Sydney-based Finn was diagnosed as being diabetic earlier this year and coupled with this the loss of his long term sponsor Nicorette, he has renamed his boat, Diabetics. He will be co-skippering her, in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart, with Adrian Dunphy.

Among the 80-strong fleet racing south on Boxing Day from Sydney, across the legendary Bass Strait and on to Hobart on the south side of Tasmania, the tally of line honours contenders now stands at six with Diabetes, plus last year's winner and this year's race favourite Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI, Grant Wharington's Skandia and Matt Allen's Volvo Open 70 Ichi Ban. While these boats represent Australia there is also the New Zealand-owned 98 footer Maximus and the 2005-6 Volvo Ocean Race winner, the Volvo 70 ABN AMRO ONE in the hands of skipper Mike Sanderson.

At present the Australian maxis are all ready to go, while Maximus only arrived in Australia by ship from the Mediterranean last week. Charles St Clair Brown, co-owner of the boat with Bill Buckley, says he is looking forward to the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. After a Northern hemisphere season of races inshore or in light airs, this may finally be the occasion Maximus gets to show her real pace.

“We have done regattas in the Med around the buoys in 10 knots,” says Brown, who will be sailing in his fifth Hobart race. “We have done a lot of things to improve our performance in that. But she is an ocean racing yacht, not a round the buoys boat.” Compared to the other 100 footers taking part, Maximus is more stable, heavier and has a smaller rig. This will leave her at a disadvantage if conditions are moderate. Like ABN AMRO ONE, her best prospects are in reaching conditions when the larger, lighter weight boats are forced to throttle back.

“We have got higher topsides and I think we can have a sustained period of higher speed reaching or broad reaching,” Brown continues, adding a warning. “The big thing is how to get through the seaway and no matter how strong your boat is, if you hit waves hard enough anything will break. We still have 40m of mast, strung up there with little bits of PBO [hi-tech composite rigging]. Fly off a wave and you are putting enormous shock loading on the gear and equipment. And then there is a huge canting keel system. Nobody can be terribly confident in this race. You always have to expect the worst kind of extreme conditions you can get in that nasty stretch of water.”

Also arriving at the eleventh hour from Europe is Italian Danilo Salsi's Swan 45, DSK Comifin. The Swan 45 is best known as an inshore one design race boat, yet Salsi and his crew, including Whitbread Round the World Race and America's Cup veteran Pietro d'Ali, are one of the few in the class to include an extensive offshore part to their sailing program. To date they have done exceedingly well in round the buoys races, winning this year's Rolex Swan Cup in Porto Cervo ahead of stiff American opposition and finishing second at Key West Race Week.

Sadly, to date Salsi and his team have not managed to duplicate this success offshore, having already sailed in this year's Newport Bermuda and Rolex Middle Sea races, without a great result in either. Next year they will round off their program with the Rolex Fastnet Race, but in the meantime there is what helmsman and trimmer Andrea Casale describes as the big one. “We are really enthusiastic to go to the Rolex Sydney Hobart. For the Italians it is a kind of Everest, for offshore sailing is the toughest race you can do apart from the Volvo Ocean Race.”

While Italy has three America's Cup teams and are one of the top nations when it comes to inshore one-design racing, they are poorly represented in offshore racing. DSK Comifin will be the first Italian boat to enter the Rolex Sydney Hobart in almost a decade. Only one of the DSK Comifin crew, Stefano Geradi, has competed in the Hobart race before. Otherwise her crew for the Hobart race are mostly professional and in addition to d'Ali, who now mostly concentrates on racing singlehanded offshore in the French Figaro class, is Andrea Caracci another singlehanded offshore sailor. Their input has gone into re-equipping DSK Comifin to make her better suited for racing offshore and, as an example, she now carries a spare rudder.

An Italian Swan 45 team, one might imagine would be hoping for light conditions like they typically get at home, but Casale says this could not be further from the truth. “To be honest we would be upset if we got to Hobart and we just had light winds. We want tough weather, we do offshore racing to have a hard time, to prove to ourselves we can do it. If it is mild we can stay at home and don't need to go all this way. The Newport Bermuda was like a Med delivery. So we want to taste the tough Tasmanian Sea and the Bass Strait.”

Unfortunately for the Italians, the long term forecast is indicating a light start to this typically gruelling offshore race. The race start is on Dec 26 at 1pm in Sydney Harbour.



ABN AMRO ONE on the way to Sydney-Hobart

13 December 2006
by James Boyd from www.regattanews.com

In boat-for-boat yacht racing, size generally means everything hence why, among the 83 boats entered in this year's Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race, the three 100 footers competing are the favourites to win the prestigious battle for line honours. Of these, Wild Oats XI, is certainly the bookie's choice having last year been only the second boat ever to earn the race 'triple' - winning line honours, handicap honours and setting a new race record. While she will be up against Maximus, Wild Oats has a slightly clearer field this year without competition from her sistership, Alfa Romeo. However, if conditions are right, Wild Oats will face stiff competition from a much smaller craft.

Earlier this year skipper Mike Sanderson's Volvo 70, ABN AMRO ONE not only won, but annihilated the competition in the Volvo Ocean Race, claiming her victory after just seven legs of the nine leg around the world race. Sanderson will be on the start line of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race with a mix of seasoned crew from his two-boat Volvo campaign, along with Australian three-time 49er World Champion Chris Nicholson.

ABN AMRO ONE is not only built to be raced around the world but is tried and tested in the extreme conditions that statistically the lead boats could well encounter. Sanderson is playing down his prospects of line honours. "Prospects - we've got two 100-footers which are going to beat us to Hobart unless something fairly radical happens. I guess if it got really nasty we could be in with a shot, probably from any point of sail. We certainly know the boat well and know what it can take, while they (the other maxis) may be a bit more ramped up for the Med."

Sanderson says he is more interested in gunning for handicap honours. Having raced at Skandia Cowes Week, the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup and in the Rolex Middle Sea Race since the Volvo Ocean Race, they have had a chance to alter the sails to optimise the boat for the IRC handicap the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race is raced under. ABN AMRO ONE's designer Juan Kouyoumdjian is more bullish about their prospects, believing 'Black Betty' has a fighting chance of taking on the super maxis if conditions exceed 15 knots.

The race
The Rolex Sydney-Hobart is a 628-mile offshore, which is often described one of the most gruelling ocean race in the world, a challenge to everyone who takes part. Organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, this year's race will be the 62nd annual edition of this time-honoured event.

The 628 nautical mile course will take the fleet from from Sydney Harbour sailing out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart. The race will start on 26 December and will be finshed on 1 January.

© TEAM ABN AMRO | www.abnamro.com/team