Wednesday, December 27, 2006

[sydney to hobart] maxis playing out of their league

The Sydney to Hobart race has always been dangerous because it travels through some of the roughest waters in the world, it is held at an unpredictable time of the year with weather which can become extremely violent very quickly and concentration on the boats is usually on ‘win at all costs’ rather than ‘batten down and play safe’, especially with race leaders.

In recent years, the rise of the ‘maxi’ has been very worrying. In the interests of pure boat speed, the old deep draft traditional lines have been revamped into flat, sleek torpedoes with highly complex systems and immensely strong synthetic fibres and other materials which can suddenly fail. It's not the first time Skandia, for example, has had centreboard trouble.

The result is a fleet of danger machines doing what they shouldn’t. Monohulls are great for safety, seaworthiness and 'slow but sure' when in traditional form but the new plastic fantastics are simply trying to play out of their league and be 'something they ain’t'. Thus Maximus’ crew had to be rescued today by helicopter and the two leaders lost their masts. If you truly want speed and safety, then the only really seaworthy boats are these.

For the record, Wild Oats XI, Skandia and Ichi Ban were leading the fleet across Bass Strait on Wednesday evening after the retirements of early leaders Maximus and ABN Amro One, who both lost their masts in the early hours of the morning. Ichi Ban was also the handicap leader.

No comments: