She's had a nose job, had a little taken off her rear ... and she's looking better than ever. No, I'm not talking about Aunty Marlene, but Australia's most favourite super-maxi Wild Oats XI.
Fresh from her recent overhaul, Wild Oats XI is back out on the water with her crew getting used to her new characteristics as they prepare for the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race. Now faster and with improved handling downwind, the Wild Oats XI crew and owners Bob and Sandy Oatley are meeting the challenge of newer yachts Comanche and Rambler head-on. Her hydrofoil wing and retractable daggerboards are just some of the improvements aimed at keeping Wild Oats XI, now 10 years old, competitive in an unprecedentedly strong field.
With an unbeaten 8 line honours and a race record, set in 2012, of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, Wild Oats XI has already proven herself a force to be reckoned with. These new improvements should make for an exciting Sydney-Hobart race this year.
Despite these changes, one thing has remained consistent over the years, and it's something that we are extremely proud of. Henri Lloyd has partnered with Wild Oats XI for the past decade, providing crews with high performance, technically innovative sailing gear. Our clothing provides crews with exactly what they need: strength, ultimate protection, ease of movement, reduced weight and, of course comfort.
With just on a month to go, this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race is set to be a close one. Four other super-maxis will be providing Wild Oats XI's crew plenty of opportunities to put her modifications to good use. Skippered again by Mark Richards, and with Juan Vila back as navigator, the 18-strong crew will be giving their all to get the very best out of their yacht.
Henri Lloyd is celebrating their partnership with Wild Oats XI by offering a day sailing on Sydney Harbour aboard Wild Oats XI for two lucky winners in the first week of February 2016.
For your chance to win this amazing experience simply answer the following question and fill out the competition form.
I used to think that nothing beat a day sailing.
Yesterday changed my mind.
The only thing better than a day sailing is a day sailing aboard a 70 foot Clipper yacht.
Yesterday will be remembered as "the best day ever".
Eight excited Henri Lloyd competition winners, one fabulous skipper, four amazing crew and me, Susana, from Henri Lloyd. You can just call me Lucky!
Even before our meeting at CYCA early yesterday I was excited. The forecast was perfect. Sunshine and wind, every sailors dream. I could spot the lucky competition winners from far away, just by the excited look on their faces.
Our first (and only) problem of the day was experienced before we even got on board, let alone set sail. We headed off for a pre-sail coffee only to discover the cafe had NO coffee. Thankfully our pure excitement took the place of caffeine and we settled for water. The Clipper Race global partnership manager, Aimee Deacon, then introduced us to Huw, skipper of 'Visit Seattle' Clipper Yacht. He took us to see his yacht to meet the crew ... all ladies (maybe we should call him Lucky).
Huw explained the set up of clipper yacht and provided us with a safety talk and gave us all life vests. Soon after, we slipped ropes and the crew took us smoothly away from our mooring at CYCA.
And then the fun started. Our competition winners were invited to take turns doing jobs around the boat; manning the winches (grinders), trimming the sails and running from port to starboard as we tacked our way along. I, however, had the hardest job of all - taking photos of the day and uploading to Instagram as we sailed. Thankfully I am good at multitasking!
It was a beautiful day, and once we were out of the heads it was all hands on deck as we faced bigger swells and had to work harder to get the best from our beautiful yacht. We got a taste of the impressive speeds these impressive race yachts can reach. Thankfully, though, we got to take a rest when we got tired and enjoy the view.
Sailing past some of Sydney's icons, I couldn't help but think of how lucky the crew taking part in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race are. They get to see the sights of 16 cities, in 13 different countries on 6 continents as they sail over 40,000 nautical miles.
Our skipper, Huw and his wonderful crew; Dana, Ana, Anita and Kärri took good care of us and told us many stories of their adventure to date, from the horror of being struck by a flying fish, to how close they've all become as friends, and them all dreading heading back to their old jobs once the race is finished sometime in late July, 2016. We were all amazed that, aside from Huw, the rest of the crew are all amateurs from all over the world.
That's the beauty of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race ... that it brings together people from different countries, with different backgrounds, varying amounts of sailing knowledge and experience and provides them with the chance to put their regular life on hold and take part in something extraordinary. Applications for the next Clipper Race series are open now.
Despite having had the pleasure of sailing experience day on a Clipper yacht during the 2013-14 race (I know, it's a hard job), I was in for a special treat this time. As we sailed out towards the heads we sailed past the enormous maxi yacht, Ragamuffin 100 and later on Wild Oats XI, complete with her new nose. Both were busy preparing for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which the entire fleet of Clipper Race yachts also take part in.
Henri Lloyd has been proudly associated with the Clipper Race since 2002, supplying the best sailing kit to the crews on each of the 12 race yachts. The race takes crews through a range of climates - from warm equatorial waters, through the Southern Ocean with its trademark Antarctic winds, and then back up to warmer winds again, and our race kit caters for it all!
We were lucky to have shared a small part of their adventure and would like to thank Huw, crew members Dana, Ana, Anita and Kärri for a spectacular day out on the water. Finally, our thanks to Clipper's Aimee Deacon for her help in organising such a wonderful experience for us.
Good luck on the remaining a Clipper Race legs, and the upcoming Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. I'll be keeping an eye out on Visit Seattle and look forward to tracking your race on the Clipper Race online tracker: http://clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings
“The sea does not distinguish between Olympians or novices. There is nowhere to hide - if Mother Nature throws down the gauntlet, you must be ready to face the same challenges as the pro racer.” *
Imagine a 40,000 nautical mile race around the world on a state-of-the-art 70-foot ocean racing yacht. Now imagine YOU on deck.
The beauty of the Clipper Round the World Race is that it is undertaken by ordinary, everyday people. Having completed a rigorous training course, participants are suited and booted in the latest extreme protection gear (Henri Lloyd gear, naturally) to commence the race of their lives – with the choice of taking part in a single leg, or completing the 8 leg race in its entirety. This is an endurance test like no other; a challenge not for the feint-hearted. And it comes with more bragging rights than CrossFit! Way more!
Henri Lloyd has been proudly associated with the Clipper Race since 2002 both as technical clothing supplier and as a race participant in 2013-14 where they finished in first place. Paul Strzelecki, Joint CEO of Henri Lloyd Ltd reflects on the 2013-14 race,
"It's the first time we have sponsored an entry in a round the world race and for our race yacht – Henri Lloyd 50 years of pioneering spirit to win in such style is the icing on the cake”.
The 2015-16 edition of the Clipper Round the World Race will be Henri Lloyd’s seventh time providing foul weather protection to race crew. We have all the right gear to keep crews kept warm, dry and protected from the tough elements they will encounter as they race around the planet.
Sometime in December, and in time for the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the 12 Clipper yachts will reach Australia, first into Albany WA, and then to Sydney. Crews will battle the constant changing conditions, from the Roaring Forties in the west to the huge ocean swells in the east. Leg 4 of the Clipper Round The World Race will test crews physically, mentally and emotionally.
Want to experience exhilarating speed and exceptional handling out on the water? Henri Lloyd are giving away 4 double-passes to a whole day sailing experience aboard a Clipper yacht on 18th December 2015, sailing from CYCA Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. It's a day not to be missed.
*Clipper Round the World Race website
Images taken from the Clipper Round the World Race website.
To enter, simply complete all the details below and click submit.
T&C: Entries close 11:59pm AEST Thursday 10th December 2015. Winner will be notified by email and/or phone. Winner must be in Sydney on Friday 18th December 2015 to redeem prize as flights and accommodation are not include. Prize cannot be redeemed for cash. Henri Lloyd's decision is final.
Wild Oats XI choose Henri Lloyd again as their official technical clothing partner.
When the crew of supermaxi Wild Oats XI look for new wet weather gear they demand the latest in technology and the best in performance. Henri Lloyd is again their gear of choice signing a new contract with the iconic British marine technical clothing company until 2017.
Over a decade long partnership with Wild Oats, Henri Lloyd wet weather gear has been there to protect the crew right across their 8 line honours wins and a bunch of history making results in offshore racing classic Royal Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and their many other pursuits.
Fran Hahlos, business manager of Henri Lloyd in Australia, commented that “it is such a huge honour to be able to work with these amazing boats and inspiring crews. These guys really know how to push the limits”. These partnerships demand high performance and innovative technology. The crews need strength, ultimate protection, ease of movement, reduced weight and of course comfort to which Henri Lloyd has stepped up to the plate to ensure the top of the range gear.
The crew will be kitted up in the latest in marine technology when the gun goes for the Transpac 2015 Race in July. Demanding top of the range in marine performance gear, the market leading Henri Lloyd Offshore Elite will help them the push the limits in offshore racing. “The 2250 nautical mile Transpac Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii is an exceptional challenge, even for a supermaxi like Wild Oats XI. The race demands the best of everyone and everything on board, so I’m happy to say I’ve just had delivered the very latest in offshore sailing gear from Henri Lloyd. I know it will go the distance for me in this race, and plenty more to follow.” commented Mark Richards, Skipper of Wild Oats XI.
Henri Lloyd Offshore Elite range is the lightest, most breathable offshore gear ever, without compromise. Designed for offshore racers and cruisers where performance and comfort is a priority. The range is 30% lighter than the best in class predecessors, as well as 20% more breathable and all this without any compromise on durability and waterproofness of the garments.
When harbour sailing, the crew choose to head out in the Henri Lloyd Fast Dri Polos, Henri Lloyd Element Shorts, 100% waterproof & breathable Henri Lloyd Rio Jacket and topped off with an easy care, easy wear Fast Dri Tech Cap for sun protection. The gear is fully functional yet comfortable enough to wear all day. Plus the added bonus of being hard wearing to which the crew definitely give this gear a beating both on and off the boat. Add in a great light weight warmth layer with the Henri Lloyd Rockall Half Zip to add warmth without weight and you are getting a full performance system. The non-absorbing, non-slip, non-marking lightweight breathable Henri Lloyd Deck Grip Profile trainer completes the kit.
Winners choose Henri Lloyd.
So plans of picking up the ipad for a third race blog as we rounded Tasman Island to the finish were well & truly ruled out by Tassie’s stormy welcome!
Now back home after the finish & festivities it’s a good time to reflect on the race and I’ll pickup where I left off…
After last year’s race on Primitive Cool, I was nervous about rounding Tasman – it was where in 2013 we’d seen 60+ knots, and had taken an absolute thumping in the worst of the front that came through, dismasting other boats and pushing everyone to their limits. The importance of choosing who you go to sea with has never been more clear to me than it was in those hours last year when a few amazingly skilled sailors kept the boat & crew safe through the very worst of conditions. I swore I’d never do the race again when I stepped off in 2013, yet here we were again approaching Tasman after 2 days of glamour sailing.
I was encouraged by reports from our navigators that conditions looked fine & there was no cause for concern. Pete Stewart (who was with me on PC last year) and I reminisced on approach and breathed a quite sigh of relief as we approached the corner, surrounded by sunshine & flocks of mutton birds, we took smiling selfies on the rail.
There were calls for more sail …. “we’re not doing anything until we get around the corner” said Pete, and as we did the breeze started to build & continued to build topping out at 52knts!
Great, here we go again!
We realised the tang bolts had started to shear the boom, so again as we’d done in the Cabbage Tree race, off came the metal part of the vang. As the wind built the mainsail tore on one of the spreaders. Eureka II rounded ahead of us and as they got thumped, we caught up. Coming around Tasman the media planes come out to take photos and a jet boat full of enthusiastically cheering spectators circled us. Their enthusiasm was contagious and now we had a 2 boat race to the finish on our hands.
Crossing Storm Bay (gee I wonder why they call it that…!) we continued to be belted with bullets of wind, and a spectacular thunderstorm complete with hail & huge bolts of lightning as we started to fight it out for position with Eureka. We shook out a reef, put it back in, shook it out again. Bang! there goes the headsail halyard.
Sail changes were fast, and it was almost impossible to keep up with the changing conditions. Just as we thought we were through the worst a massive black cloud was rolling over from the west, so with a full (& slightly torn) main we hugged the left hand side of the Derwent, Eureka went right and the tacking dual at the end was as great a finish to a race that you could hope for.
In all the crazy weather that Tassie had to throw at us, the last stretch in from Tasman to the finish was the most exciting and the best test of our skills all race.
We were lucky enough to arrive during the afternoon when the Taste festival was packed with people cheering and then greeted by lots of family & friends on the dock. There’s nothing better than arriving to a welcome of familiar faces, big hugs, champagne and for those that come down to meet us you’ll probably never know how much it means to us that you’re there. It’s hard to explain how amazing and emotional that finish is. It’s an absolute highlight of the race.
The following days were a blast of celebrations and debriefs with crew, catching up with friends from other boats, fantastic New Years, an incredible day at Mona watching the Violent Femmes, hanging out at the Taste and Customs house and re-telling telling our Hobart stories over lots of drinks!
From start to finish the Sydney to Hobart race is so much more than the 628nm at sea. It starts months and months before in planning, preparing the boat, building the right crew, planning provisions, watches, crew gear, emergency procedures, training and delivering the boat. It occurs at a time of the year which for many is the busiest & everyone’s tired with end of year stress. It disrupts Christmas, pushes everyone’s patience, time and resources and for boat owners is expensive pre-race and this year certainly for many post-race as well.
But this year it felt like mostly it was about the people, the people you go to sea with, family and friends who support us & follow us in this crazy sport, & those who are there to celebrate with at the end.
Regardless of what’s happened during the race or what the result is, when you hit the finish line there’s nothing better than having achieved the milestone of having done a Sydney to Hobart. This was my third S2H and each one has been so very different.
This race is strangely addictive and to have the opportunity to be a part of it will always be a privilege.
Below: Images taken from on board Hartbreaker during the start of RSHYR 2014.
It was an epic battle right from the starter’s gun with Comanche, the new and very sexy US built 100-foot supermaxi, leading the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race fleet out of the heads in record making speed. History-maker Wild Oats XI, hotly rebranded with Audi Australia sponsorship, was quick on the chase and held a tough pursuit for much of the race bringing it home strong to take her 8th line honours win in a decade. Comanche finishing in second place only 50 minutes later – a massive effort for this debutante beauty of a boat.
Photo credit: Andrea Francolini
And on board both of these majestic machines was Henri Lloyd wet weather gear, protecting the crew from all the elements ocean racing throws forward. Needless to say this was a proud moment, not only for these amazing crews, but also for world renowned marine technical brand Henri Lloyd.
Over almost a decade long partnership with Wild Oats X and XI, Henri Lloyd wet weather gear has been there to protect the crew right across their 8 line honours wins and a bunch of history making results in RSHYR and their many other pursuits. Fran Hahlos, brand manager of Henri Lloyd in Australia, commented that “it is such a huge honour to be able to work with these amazing boats and inspiring crews. These guys really know how to push the limits”. These partnerships demand high performance and innovative technology. The crews need strength, ultimate protection, ease of moment, reduced weight and of course comfort to which Henri Lloyd has stepped up to the plate to provide the top of the range gear.
During 2014 Henri Lloyd launched the highly innovative Elite Offshore range which is the lightest, most breathable offshore gear on the global market. It exclusively utilises a unique extreme performance Gore-Tex fabric that is 30% lighter and 20% more breathable than any best of class predecessor. This is real game-changer technology, the reduced weights and increased breathability are not just laboratory jargon but can be sensed by the wearer. Fatigue can be lessened and performance enhanced through the fabrics technological achievements.
And by transferring the Gore™ Micro-Grid technology from Ocean garments the garment is not only tougher and more abrasion resistant but due to the low topography of the woven lining the outer layer glides easily over mid layers to reduce “interlayer grab” which makes donning and doffing easier and reduces fatigue in wear. Throw in exclusive Henri Lloyd features such as the Optivision Hood in which the transparent TPU windows allow wider peripheral vision without compromising protection for the face, and you end up with a must-have offshore racing or cruising garment. This is the new phase of marine garment technology and it is exclusive to Henri Lloyd.
Paul Strzelecki, CEO of Henri Lloyd explained, “Our core mission is Intelligent Innovation, at Henri Lloyd our focus is on enhancing comfort and therefore performance on the water. The new Elite Offshore range sets new standards in both of these areas, it is the culmination of years of intensive development and we are proud of this range and are certain it will become the benchmark for high performance sailing equipment.”
Just back in range after last post.
Brochure sailing yesterday and today. Code zero and big kite down the NSW coast and a chance to dry out the boat and our gear. Beautiful sailing with the a7 overnight (last night) across a warm, starry, Bass Straight with the moon setting low on the horizon.
More breeze today saw us blow the A4 kite during a gybe, so we've been under the A7 much of the day, which has cost us some time. Top boat speed was 20knts, spectacular, sunshine sailing!! This is what we're out here for!
Close call with a sunfish earlier, which we originally thought was a shark, luckily closely avoided.
Everyone well fed and well recovered after night 1.
Settled in for he evening, off St Helens now, 12knts consistent boat speed with the A7 up, Everyone happy and well and anticipating Hobart arrival late tomorrow.