Photos: Team Ragamuffin

Three new (or newish) 100ft maxis

Line honours battle heats up for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart

Wednesday October 1st 2014, Author: Di Pearson, Location: Australia

The brand new hull of Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 arrived at Sydney City Marine in Sydney under the cover of darkness in the early hours of this morning, her sheer size causing one bystander to comment: “The eagle has landed.”

Fischer’s team will work quickly now to ready the 100ft maxi for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, this year celebrating its 70th edition. The first big job is to attach the heavily modified deck of the previous Ragamuffin 100 (which took line honours in the 2011 race as Investec Loyal) and add the new keel.

Water ballasted, the new super maxi boasts twin rudders, 6m beam, 6m draft and will be refitted with the rig from the previous Ragamuffin. Fischer, who took line honours in the 1988 and 1990 Hobart races, with an overall win in 1992, aboard previous Ragamuffins, is hoping this is the yacht to secure him the trifecta of line honours wins.

Being 87 has not slowed the yachtsman down. He has eagerly anticipated the arrival of the new hull, designed by Andy Dovell and himself and built at Innovation Composites in South Nowra on the NSW south coast.

“The whole team has put a massive amount of work into the design and build of Ragamuffin 100, including a completely new hull,” Fischer said today.

Due to launch the yacht in early December, Fischer, who will clock up his 47th Hobart race this year, will have little time to get the yacht up to speed. He and the crew have not been idle though, sailing the slightly smaller Ragamuffin 90 to successive line honours victories this year in the Rolex South China Sea Race and the Okinawa Tokai Race, in which they also broke the race record.

But Fischer, who has been under the pump time-wise many times with new boats in his long yachting career, is taking it in his stride. “We are all on track to for the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart and line honours is our goal,” he stated.

However, the new Ragamuffin 100 can expect a battle with at least four other super maxis in what is sure to be the most gripping line honours stoush in years.

On the Australian side, competition will come from Bob Oatley’s record equalling seven-time line honours winner, Wild Oats XI, the only yacht to take the treble of line honours, record and overall win twice. Built in 2005, the Mark Richards-skippered yacht has been extensively modified throughout the years to stay with the times, and is the reigning champion.

Anthony Bell, one of only two yachtsmen to snatch line honours victory from Wild Oats XI (Investec Loyal in 2011), purchased the wreck of the former Speedboat/Rambler 100 last year. Purportedly the fastest yacht in the world, Bell practically rebuilt the yacht after the keel fell off and it capsized during the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race, but he ultimately finished second to Oats last year. Recent modifications could make a difference to the six year old yacht.

On the international front, the most exciting expected entry is American billionaire Jim Clark’s new Comanche. The latest in technology has not been spared to create this all-new 100 foot yacht, the hull of which was launched last week. Clark's priority for Comanche has been the Rolex Sydney Hobart followed by a program tackling the world’s major race records.

Comanche is designed by VPLP and Guillaume Verdier, the yacht is a development of MACIF, Francois Gabart's Vendée Globe winning IMOCA 60 and has Volvo Ocean Race skipper and North Sails President Ken Read running it. The latest photos from her here or read our interview earlier in the year with Ken Read. 

The second US entry is RIO 100. TP52 owner Manouch Moshayedi purchased the former Zana/Konica Minolta/Lahana and lengthened the Brett Bakewell-White design from 98 to 100ft, looking sharp with a longer bowsprit and new silver/gray paint job. However Rio 100's Californian owner says unless the wind is from behind, their chances in the 628 nautical mile race are minimal against the canting keelers.

And of course there is George David's latest Rambler 90 footer due for launch at the end of this month or early November out of NEB in Rhode Island, (although not competing in the Hobart race)


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