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.
This morning, 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 centre and stabilise the keel, but retired from the race and is heading for Eden.
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.
Eighteen nautical miles astern the New Zealand Giacomo is running second but also leading the race on corrected time.
By Bruce Montgomery, RSHYR media
Wild Oats XI confirm retirement
Tuesday December 27, 10:30am AEDT.
Pre-race favourite Wild Oats XI has confirmed its retirement from the 72nd Rolex Sydney Hobart, dashing hopes of their ninth line honours victory.
A broken hydraulic ram, which operates the canting keel, is the cause of the retirement for the crew.
In the time since the retirement, the Wild Oats XI media team have confirmed via Twitter that all crew on board are safe. They have also confirmed that the keel has been centred and stabilised. The team will now make their way to 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.
With this retirement there are now 84 yachts remaining in the race, with current leader Perpetual LOYAL still sailing under record pace.
More details to come.