Supermaxis set for Big Boat Challenge

Sydney-Hobart winner Wild Oats XI has repaired recent damage and is set for the Big Boat Challenge.
Sydney-Hobart winner Wild Oats XI has repaired recent damage and is set for the Big Boat Challenge.

The four supermaxis in Tuesday's Big Boat Challenge will be out to avoid any damage before this month's Sydney to Hobart, though one of their number has already been in the wars.

Wild Oats XI is set to return to action in the sprint around Sydney Harbour, just four weeks after suffering rigging, deck and mast damage in the Cabbage Tree island race.

Asked if he would be holding back at all on Tuesday after what happened last month, Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards said no.

The nine-time Sydney to Hobart line honours winner will be up against fellow supermaxis Black Jack, InfoTrack and Scallywag on Tuesday, though a fifth 100-footer, Comanche has opted not to contest the race.

"We know it's been a phenomenal effort by the team, over the last three weeks after the catastrophic failure, it's been a huge job," said Richards, whose yacht has taken line honours in the Big Boat Challenge 11 times.

"Through the breakage we went back and looked at all of the data and there's nothing out of the ordinary at all, so that's the strange thing for the whole situation.

"There's absolutely no reason for that rig to have broken, in our mind, but it did.

"That whole area of the boat is probably about got 35 per cent stronger than it was before the Cabbage Tree race, so we're obviously going to be much better prepared, to make sure that doesn't happen again."

With just more than two weeks to the Sydney to Hobart the four supermaxis will on Tuesday strive to stay out of each other's way to avoid any chance of damage which could prevent them lining up for the Boxing Day start.

"It's about keeping the boats apart, having a good race and trying to put on a show,"" Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said.

"It's a hard one because we want to win but you have to protect the asset at all times."

Scallywag skipper David Witt said the key with the supermaxis was learning when to take the foot off the pedal.

"The longer you keep it down the better you go, but you might break," Witt said.

"It's all in the confidence in your equipment and this is probably the first time we've ever been very confident in our equipment."

The only supermaxi racing on Tuesday not to have made significant modifications since last year's Hobart race is InfoTrack, which has a tight budget and a smaller crew.

Australian Associated Press