Wild Oats XI, the supermaxi that has dominated the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race for the last 11 years, is out of this year’s race after succumbing to the record pace she was setting at the head of the fleet.
Tuesday, December 27, 10:30am AEDT, approaching the north-east coast of Flinders Island in eastern Bass Strait, she suffered damage to the hydraulic ram that adjusts the angle of the canting or swinging, keel beneath the hull. The keel counteracts the weight of the wind on the sails, enabling the boat to remain more upright. It also reduces leeway, the distance the boats veers from its compass course. The crew were able to manually center and stabilize the keel, but retired from the race and is heading for Eden. This is the second year in a row that skipper Mark Richards has had to make the call to retire from the race. In 2015 a damaged mainsail was the Achilles heel in their race.
Wild Oats XI had been chased throughout the night by Anthony Bell’s supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL, which now leads the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart, and is also on race record pace. If she maintains this morning’s speed in good easterly winds, she may finish hours inside the record early tomorrow morning in Hobart.
With this retirement there are now 84 yachts remaining in the race, with current leader Perpetual LOYAL still sailing under record pace.