Round Ireland record breaker ICAP Leopard, the 100ft supermaxi racing yacht owned by Helical Bar CEO Mike Slade, is now training hard in Sydney ahead of her assault on the Rolex Sydney-Hobart race. Her crew inlcudes Wexford's Justin Slattery. This 628 mile “offshore classic” will see 100 yachts from all over the world tackle the fearsome Bass Strait in a bid to be the first to cross the Hobart finish line.The start gun is set to fire at 13:00 (local time) on Boxing Day, when ICAP Leopard will come up against stiff competition in the form of her lighter antipodean rivals Wild Oats XI and Alfa Romeo. ‘Oats is searching for her fifth consecutive line-honours victory but ICAP Leopard has already finished first in the Rolex Fastnet and Middle-Sea races this year and is definitely in the hunt for the world’s most prestigious offshore racing treble.
A tropical storm in the north of Western Australia is currently making any form of prediction difficult for navigator Hugh Agnew, but preliminary forecasts have shown stronger breeze for the start, which would suit the heavyweight British challenger. However, with conditions remaining unstable Slade and crew are likely to face a titanic struggle with their rivals in the run-in to Hobart.
Boat Captain Chris Sherlock commented: “Since arriving in Sydney we have had a lot on but we will be 100 percent ready and focused by start time. We are training hard now out on the water and are confident that, if the conditions go our way, we can take line-honours and the treble. The competition will be fierce but we can’t wait to get started and hopefully lead the fleet to Tasmania.”