“The boat has always been very fast in a downwind configuration, but we’ve done some really nice things this year,” Richards said.
“We have to do a good job to be in contention but I think Wild Oats will be pretty hard to hang on to this year.”
While Richards regards Comanche as the biggest threat to his boat, it also has three other supermaxis to beat.
Black Jack and InfoTrack previously won line honours as Alfa Romeo and Perpetual LOYAL respectively and then there’s the sole overseas supermaxi in Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai Scallywag.
Asked if it was the best quality lineup of supermaxis Wild Oats had raced against Richards said: “without a doubt”.
“There’s’ only six 100-footers in the world and five of them are here. It’s’ pretty amazing when you think about it.”
Comanche skipper Jim Cooney said the forecast was looking “more and more positive.”
“There’s going to be very little transition and what there is we can probably take a line that minimises that or avoids it entirely,” Cooney told AAP.
He doubted his boat’s 2017 race record would fall and some of his rivals believe it will be a more tactical race than last year.
“I think it’s going to be a yacht race rather than a speed race which I’m excited about,” Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford said.
While most of the supermaxi leaders were happy with the forecast, one exception was InfoTrack owner Christian Beck.
‘”A big heavy boat like InfoTrack, we really need a lot of wind, so it’s a bit disappointing for us really,” Beck said.
“We can sort of bash through the really heavy stuff but there is nothing to bash through in this forecast.”
The smaller boats drew some encouragement from the forecast.
“I think the forecast is 100 per cent better than the last two years which has just been an excellent forecast for the big boats,” said Shane Kearns, skipper of the 34-foot Komatsu Azzurro.