Damaged Wild Oats XI OK for Hobart race

Adrian Warren
Bill Barry-Cotter, Sean Langman, Iain Murray and Jim Cooney at the Sydney to Hobart launch

Wild Oats XI tactician Iain Murray says the damaged supermaxi will be ready to shoot for a 10th Sydney to Hobart line honours win, despite a global repair job and still having to qualify for the race.

The boat suffered rigging, deck and mast damage while competing earlier this month in the Cabbage Tree island race.

The work involving repairs and new parts has been taking place in Spain, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia, but Murray hopes the yacht will be ready for the Big Boat Challenge in Sydney on November 10.

"There's still a lot of parts to arrive and a lot of bits and pieces have got to be fitted together," Murray said at Wednesday's launch of the 75th Sydney to Hobart.

"The boat is in the shed in a million pieces and to get it out and put it all back together is days of work .

"We still have to complete our qualification safety exercise, 24 hours at sea, that's a priority to actually get in the (Sydney Hobart) race.

"This is obviously a little bit of a setback

"The boat has a great crew, it has an incredible support mechanism behind it and very passionate owners and for us it shouldn't be any detriment to our performance in the race."

He said it wasn't yet totally clear what caused the boat to break.

"We've probably made the boat stronger as a result of what happened, but we're still analysing it," he said.

He dismissed the suggestion Wild Oats XI would be sailed more cautiously in this year's Hobart race because of her recent troubles

"We won't be cautious, we'll give the boat everything, we'll let her rip," Murray said.

Wild Oats XI will be one of five supemaxis in a fleet currently standing at 164, which would be the fourth largest in the race's history.

Jim Cooney, skipper of 2017 line honours winner Comanche, said he expected this year's race to be even closer than 2018, when only 42 minutes separated the first four boats to Hobart.

"Everybody has worked a little bit on their boats over the last 12 months, I think we've probably eked out a little extra performance here and there which means the blanket is not going to be any bigger," Cooney said.

"It's impossible to predict who is favourite."

The fleet will also include Katwinchar, a wooden boat built in 1904, which at 115 years will be the oldest yacht to ever contest the race.