*This article was originally published on December 26, 2013.
When the starting gun fires on Saturday for the 1163km Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race, one boat will be challenging the favourite, Wild Oats XI, for line honours.
The supermaxi Perpetual Loyal, owned by Sydney accountant Anthony Bell, has tried unsuccessfully to beat Wild Oats in the last two races.
He also has US speedsters Comanche and Rambler, along with the Australian supermaxi Ragamuffin to beat in a fleet of 109 yachts
Perpetual Loyal’s 24-member crew is filled with celebrities such as former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke and his secret weapon this year is navigator Adrienne Cahalan, the former Wild Oats navigator, competing in her 24th race.
While Wild Oats XI has won line honours eight times and and in 2012 broke her own race record, with 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes & 12 seconds to win the race overall. Bell took line honours from his rival in 2011, by 3 minutes, with Investec Loyal, now called Ragamuffin.
Have a look inside the supermaxi and line honours contender Perpetual Loyal.
At 30m, Perpetual Loyal is the largest yacht allowed in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart. It was built in Auckland in 2008, designed by Argentinian Juan Kouyoumdjian, and originally named Speedboat.
The boat has two rudders, angled on each side of the boat so the rudder is perpendicular to increase steering ability as the boat heels.
At around 7.5m, Perpetual Loyal is a much wider boat than Wild Oats XI. Her hull is relatively flat, sitting on the water much like a giant surfboard. The boat's top speed is around 40 knots - 75kmh.
Sir Richard Branson was an owner and attempted to break the trans-Atlantic sailing record in 2008, but broke the mainsail instead.
Two side fins, sitting just in front of the canting keel, are used when the boat is sailing into the wind to help it point (steer) higher upwind. The leeward side (lower) fin is hydraulically lowered, but they are raised when the boat heads downwind.
These indicators on the mast tell everyone about wind speed and direction, as well as boat speed and other data to help ensure the sails are trimmed to the optimum position.
Perpetual Loyal has two steering wheels, each with its own set of instruments to provide feedback on wind and boat speed and directions.
There are around a dozen halyards for raising and lowering sails. The ropes come in different colours to help with ID, but you also get a little more advice on the cleats where they lock off. A 240hp engine helps hoist sails.
There are two life rafts for the 24 crew. The bulb above is the satellite, used to assist with navigation, communication and tracking.
Attached to the lifejackets, which crew wear permanently on deck, along with a life harness that attaches to the boat, is a small shortwave radio. The signal can be picked up by other boats and shipping to assist with rescue.
Wet weather gear hangs just inside the entrance. Each crew member is assigned a number, so you know which one is yours.
The beds are rudimentary: webbing on aluminium-frames, with pulleys to adjust the angle to the lean of the boat.
While Perpetual Loyal's space age-designed hull weighs as much as six African elephants, the front half won't be used during the race. This photo looks back past the two side fins to the hatch that will be sealed at the start of the race, making it watertight.
The keel weighs 15 tonnes, with a lead bulb at the bottom, sits on this pin and swings across a 30-degree arc, which helps keep the boat upright.
Hydraulics move the 15-tonne keel, which acts as a counterweight to keep the boat upright against the pressure of the wind.
The navigator spends the entire race at the 'office' below decks, checking satellite information, the movements of rival boats, weather data and boat performance, giving constant feedback to the tactician and skipper.
This 240hp engine runs constantly, driving everything from the electronics used for computers and the winches that trim the sails to the hydraulics.
This insulated space, under the cockpit, sits just in front of the navigator and is seriously high tech. If the engine fails, the boat is essentially crippled.
While the crew sits on the windward rail to help keep the boat upright, it also has water ballast which can be pumped from one side of the boat to the other. These are the pumps and seacocks controlling the ballast system at the boat's stern.
During the race, sailors will work in shifts, spending 6 hours on, 6 off during the day, and 4 hours on, 4 off, at night. But if the boat needs to tack or change sails, it's all hands on deck, and key members of the crew will barely get any sleep during the two days at sea.
Big sails need big winches. While there's a handle slot for manual cranking, these winches for trimming sails are operated electronically.
One of the most remarkable advances in technology in recent years is in rope strength for the 'sheets' used on sailing boats. Now, a rope just 6mm thick can hold up to 6.5 tonnes. This is the main sheet, a 110mm thick single line, operating the mainsail, which generates several tonnes in pressure. Its tensile strength is about 15 tonnes.
See the original version here.
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