Wild Oats Precision start strategy.
The team that makes up Wild Oats, from after-guard to the fore-deck and below to the Nav-table, executed a heavy down-wind, run-out tide start to perfection.
With 20-25 knot driven white caps coming out of Rose Bay many boats headed to the favoured northern start pin end. WO XI was at the pin end when the gun went and were never troubled.
Going to the start line with an un-reefed main-sail and a small jib up. The not so secret weapon, a 500+ square foot foiled head sail was kept in the quiver till the start gun. The Smaller jib and provided the drive forward with the breeze on her three quarter. The outgoing tide also assisted in bringing the apparent wind forward to allow them to hit the line fast and let loose the massive Robert Oatley Wines branded head sail. 3 Sailing it on a very tight of angle toward to the turning mark at under Sydney’s North, enabled Mark Richards to get the jump on her line honours counterparts, Ragamuffin Loyal and Lehana.
It was a site to be seen, only the broadcast helicopters were able to keep up as the massive mainsail became redundant and started back-winding as they went past Clifton Gardens and ‘Obelisk’ and on the western Shore.
With the Main in-side out it was time to put the big guns away. The big heady was furled away and they were able to sail up to the mark and go around it almost a minute and a half ahead of Ragamuffin Loyal and Lehana.
Knowing that they could hold the angle with the main, smaller jib and the big new Head sail (which they later blew out on the way to the race record) in strong conditions was the deciding factor which allowed them to gain a massive lead in an very short period of time. Last years race was won by 3 or so minutes. 5 minutes into this race they already had a lead of 1 and a half minutes.
The Pin end start has worked well for Wild Oats in the past, for both upwind and down wind starts. Tactician Iain Murray should be congratulated for executing this so well. The crew’s sail trim and handling was also excellent. I couldn’t fault their start. Taking the shyest of possible angles allowed them to sail very fast for as long as possible.
What went wrong for the Opposition
Lehana and Ragamuffin Loyal were never in it.
Lehana went for a start closer to the Committee boat, about half way up the line, closer to the breeze and more of a direct line to the 1st mark. Their sail handing in the stronger breeze was no where near as crisp as WO XI and has a result they didn’t have anywhere near the boat speed at the line to keep tabs on Mark Richards.
It took nearly 3 minutes for them to gain control of the Code Zero and by that time WO was already passing the natural obstacle ”Sow and Pigs”. Lehana also went to the start line with a Reef in the main and what looked to be a larger Jib. While the main was reefed, the Large Jib and Code Zero just looked like too much sail for the crew and they looked to be struggling on that 1st Leg.
The Crew on the foredeck of Ragamuffin Loyal also seemed to be struggling with sail choice. It looked for much of the leg that they were attempting to release a Code Zero to no avail. By the time they went past Sow and Pigs on the western side they needed to head up to the mark. In this case the lack of sail power was a hindrance to their boat speed. The much smaller Black Jack with its sails trimmed well nearly snuch underneath Ragamuffin Loyal at one stage. The fact that Ragamuffin Loyal was OCS towards the Pin end didn’t even help her cause
By the time the two nearest competitors got their act together it was Wild Oats XI first and Daylight second. For a Full sized Photo gallery head to our Community Photo’s Page