Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wild Oats XI to repair keel damage

Robert Oatley’s Wild Oats XI emerging from the shed after being lengthened to 100 feetRobert Oatley’s Reichel Pugh designed Wild Oats XI emerging from the shed after being lengthened to the maximum length overall limit of 100 feet and undergoing other modifications -
Andrea Francolini,
Midnight manoeuvres for Wild Oats XI to repair keel damage

There was plenty of unscheduled activity at Woolwich Dock, on Sydney Harbour, around midnight last night when Bob Oatley’s Rolex Sydney-Hobart race record holder, Wild Oats XI, was lifted from the water so repairs could be made to the yacht’s keel.

An underwater inspection of the 30.48 metre long supermaxi’s hull yesterday revealed that the streamlined steel fin keel had been damaged when it hooked onto a buoy and line attached to a fish trap off Sydney Heads the previous day.

Wild Oats XI was doing around 20 knots at the time of the incident. When the line attached to the trap ripped across the surface of the keel it serrated some of the fine leading edge.

While the damage was not structural it was considered to be serious enough to cause speed-sapping turbulence in the water flowing over the keel when the yacht was racing.

“We had to lift the yacht out of the water at midnight because that was when the tide was most favourable,” said Wild Oats XI skipper, Mark Richards. “The damage is only superficial, but we need absolutely everything going for us in this year’s Hobart race, so it was imperative that we fixed it.”

The yacht was due to be relaunched at 11am today.

Wild Oats XI, which is the course record holder for the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, will be going for an unprecedented fifth consecutive line honours in the classic this year.

By Rob Mundle -