Skandia v Wild Oats

TItans to meet in the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge

Friday December 12th 2008, Author: Jennifer Crooks, Location: United Kingdom
The two 30m maxis in town for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, Grant Wharington’s Skandia and Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI, will meet for the first time since their encounter in last year’s bluewater classic in the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Tuesday 16 December 2008.

While it is largely regarded as a fun race, this Sydney Harbour spectacle does offer a sneak preview to the looming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours contest. Wild Oats XI has claimed the last two line honours wins in this unique big boat race.

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge will be the one and only race outing for Wild Oats XI and her crew prior to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart on Boxing Day. The maxi is vying for an historic fourth consecutive line honours win and the crew has opted not to contest any of the lead up regattas, instead conducting their own training program.

“We are looking forward to some tight maneuvering around Sydney Harbour. The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge is always a great day out,” said Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards today.

Other crowd favourites to join in the fun are Ichi Ban, owned by CYCA Commodore Matt Allen, and Andrew Short’s Andrew Short Marine Shockwave 5.

All four of these boats will carry two guests who won the right to be aboard for this race via the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge eBay auction, which raised over $3,500 for the SOLAS Trusts charity.

Making their racing debut will be Alan Brierty’s Limit, a Reichel/Pugh 62, and Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel/Pugh 63 Loki, which was launched in Sydney yesterday. Limit is due to arrive in Sydney today following its delivery from Melbourne where the boat was built and launched last week.

The two boats are near sisterships and plenty of sibling rivalry is anticipated between the two crews who have only seen the ‘other’ Reichel/Pugh in photographs.

Bob Steel’s Quest and Graeme Wood’s Wot Yot, both TP52s, will go head to head on the Harbour as the two prepare to line up for a crack at the prized Tattersall’s Cup for the Rolex Sydney Hobart overall winner.

Peter Harburg’s Black Jack, named after motor racing legend Sir Jack Brabham, will make an appearance following her recent third in the Sydney Short Ocean Racing Championship.

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge provides a rare opportunity for Australia’s largest ocean racing yachts to flex their muscles around one of the world’s most iconic waterways without the limitations of having to manoeuvre around a large fleet that usually includes much smaller and slower boats.

For the third time in the event’s 13 year history, the race committee will on the day select from two courses, one a 14 mile course and the other a 12 mile course around Sydney Harbour, ensuring a windward start.

The SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, one of Sydney’s most spectacular sporting and harbour events, will start off Steele Point, Vaucluse, at 12.30pm on Tuesday 16 December and will take the fleet twice around Sydney Harbour, passing many of Sydney’s famous landmarks including Fort Denison, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Sydney Opera House, which backdrops the finish line.

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