Slade arrives and discusses Hobart

"A bit like watching your mother-in-law drive your new Ferrari over a cliff..."

Wednesday December 12th 2007, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: United Kingdom
Mike Slade, owner of maxi City Index Leopard, arrived in Sydney from London this morning and entertained all at the morning's media conference with bright and witty English humour.

This will be Slade’s third attempt at a Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours win and while he’s good friends with Bob Oatley, he will ‘reluctantly’ spoil Wild Oats’ party to achieve his second major goal with the boat.

“Bob Oatley has been a gentleman and a great host since the boat has been here and while it would be great to win, I don’t really like the thought of spoiling his party either,” said Slade. He cracked: “It’s a bit like watching your mother-in-law drive your new Ferrari over a cliff – you don’t know whether to be happy or sad.”

Behind the friendly rivalry and banter, Slade is serious about making this Rolex
Sydney Hobart finish a winner.

“This is a race that any serious offshore sailor wants to win and I think we’ve got a good shot at getting line honours,” he said. “We’re very confident we’ve got enough people in the crew who’ve done enough Hobarts and in fact maybe they’ve done too many, so I’ll be looking to keep it simple and keep the communication open in the crew. “The boat is still almost virginal. We’ve come here [to Australia] with only 43 hours full on time on the boat. There’s an awful lot still to learn and plenty of room for improvement.

“Its probably 10 tonnes heavier than the other maxis in this race. It has been built strong….it should stand up,” said Slade when asked how he thought City Index Leopard would fair in conditions similar to those that broke ABN AMRO and Maximus last year.

“It’s not always the fastest boat that wins, it’s the boat that goes the right way and stays in one piece". Slade also believes Maximus could be the one to watch, the “joker of the pack”.

“If it was just Wild Oats and ourselves, we could cover each other comfortably but with Maximus, Wild Oats and us, I think two boats will stay together and one will split,” he said.

“I’d be surprised if the three stay together and I think we’re more likely to split. We are perfectly happy in stronger offshore conditions. We’ll be happy to go offshore to get the strong southerly current.

“I just hope my words don’t come back to haunt me later,” smiled Slade, all too aware that the weather will determine which boats reach Hobart and the final line honours outcome.

Slade's yacht was built by McConaghy Boats in Sydney. He took possession of the boat in the UK in May before going on to smash the record in the Rolex Fastnet Race, the boat’s one and only outing. Following the withdrawal of Integrity, the Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet stands at 85.

Aboard City Index Leopard for the race is a professional crew of 23, plus guests. Helmed by owner Mike Slade, the yacht has several Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup sailors onboard, with Jules Salter navigating, Jason Carrington on the bow and Gordon Maguire and Paul Standbridge as watch captains. Ray Davies, Emirates Team New Zealand’s strategist in the last America’s Cup, will be tactician and Noel Drennan will be trimmer/helmsman, with 22 Sydney Hobart Yacht Races to his name.

Ray Davies Watch Captain
Paul Standbridge Watch Captain
Gordon Maguire Watch Captain
Chris Sherlock Trimmer/Driver
Noel Drennan Trimmer/Driver
Mark Antony Thomas Trimmer/Driver
David Peter Rolfe Trimmer/Bow
Kevin George Trimmer
Hugo Slade Trimmer
Adam Hawkins Trimmer
John Wyborn Seabrook Trimmer
Barney Henshaw Depledge Sewer
Josh Clark Sewer
Timothy Sellars Pit/Sewer
Mike Slade Owner/Driver
Jules Salter Navigator
Hugh John Agnew Navigator
Rory Heron Mastman
Jason Christopher Carrington Bow/Trimmer
Zane Richard Gills Bow
Ross Monson Bow
Guy Salter Bow
Darren Paul Senogles Bow

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