|SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA-(3-12-2004) All three super maxis entered for the 60th anniversary Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be based on Sydney Harbour from next week as they prepare for their line honours battle in the ocean classic, now just three weeks away.
New Zealander Stewart Thwaites has already raced his 98-footer Konica Minolta in the Savills SORC regatta in Sydney; Ludde Ingvall’s new 90-footer Nicorette will have its first sail this weekend; and Grant Wharington’s Skandia, also a 98-footer, is due from Melbourne on Sunday.
Skandia and Konica Minolta, which finished only 14 minutes apart in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart, will race against each other again next Friday, December 10, in the Canon Big Boat Challenge, followed by the Rolex Trophy rating series from December 16-19.
However, Ingvall and his crew will concentrate on sea trials and tuning up the boat over the next two weeks, including sailing a compulsory qualifying sea voyage of 200 nautical miles.
Launched only this week, Nicorette has a powerful new hull shape and triple foil system designed by South African-based naval architects Simonis/Voogd, but uses the deck and layout from Ingvall’s previous Nicorette. The canting keel is asymmetric and features a trimflap.
The hull is carbon fibre, as are the mast and boom and working sails and like her rival Skandia, she has a canting keel for additional stability, a canard dagger board for’ard of the canting keel for improved directional control and ‘lift’ to windward, as well as a conventional rudder.
Konica Minolta, which raced to Hobart last year as Zana, has a conventional bulb keel but uses water ballast for additional stability. Both she and Skandia have bowsprits on which to tack their huge asymmetric spinnakers.
Skandia recently returned to her home club at Mornington, on Port Phillip Bay, after an extensive voyage which saw her win the Hamilton Island Race Week and then win in record time a race from Hong Kong to Vietnam.
Yendys in previous colours in 2003
There are three big boats with canting keels in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race, Skandia, Nicorette and Stephen David’s Reichel/Pugh 60 Wild Joe, the 2003 Admiral’s Cup champion previously called Wild Oats.
Meanwhile, Geoff Ross’ 52-footer Yendys is sailing across the Tasman after undergoing an IRC conversion in Auckland, designed by Rolf Vrolijk, the designer of the America’s Cup winner, Alinghi.
The former European IMS champion yacht, now painted white, is expected to be a keen contender for Overall IRC handicap honours, with owner Ross putting together his customery strong ocean racing team. Ross won the 1999 Sydney Hobart with his previous Yendys.
Ross, while Sydney-based, has been elected Rear Commodore of the Royal Ocean Racing Club in England. He also plans to race the current Yendys in the Rolex Trophy rating series from December 16-19.