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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wild Thing out of Sydney to Hobart yacht race

Owner-skipper Grant Wharington was heartbroken and in tears yesterday when he found out at the eleventh hour, that he was denied permission to start in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.  It seems the former Melbourne carpenter didn't have the necessary construction and rating certificates needed to cover the modifications made to his yacht.

Wharington chopped the last 30 feet off the hull earlier this year and replaced it with a longer, wider section that increased the yacht's length from 98 feet to the maximum allowable 100 feet and increased its beam at the stern by three feet.  

When Wharington left his Queensland home to sail down to Sydney, new sails and equipment still hadn't arrived from America and he only went sailing with the new mainsail and titanium rigging on Thursday afternoon.  "I'm all good" Wharington said "The paperwork is in and I'm right to start on Wednesday."  The chairman of the Sydney-Hobart committee, Tim Cox, confirmed that Wild Thing was clear to start.

Commodore Howard Piggott

Wild Thing is no stranger to bad luck.  In  2004, when in the lead, the canting keel fell off in Bass Strait and skipper and crew had to be rescued.  The yacht was recovered and rebuilt. 

In 2009, the yacht lost its mast and the skipper had another one flown in from France and fitted the day before the race but had to retire early because it was unsafe.

In 2010 they collided with a media boat at the start but managed to finish fifth across the line.

In 2011 they had to pull out because of sail damage and now this latest disaster.  Warrington's new American partner will not be pleased.

The decision to axe the boat was made three hours before the start of the race after the committee failed to receive some documentation regarding modifications.  

Wharington slammed race director Tim Cox and accuses him of having a bias against big boats.  He pointed out that Cox made unsuccessful post-race protests against the last two line-honours winners, Wild Oats XI (2010) and Investec Loyal (2011).  "I don't know whether there's any kind of conspiracy going on but unfortunately, I think this particular race director seems to be a serial offender of trying to get big boats out of the race" he said.

Tim Cox

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Howard Piggott said the boat's owners had failed to provide the necessary statements that Wild Thing was designed and built in accordance with the American Bureau of Shipping guide.  "The race committee has worked with the owner of the boat Grant Wharington, to allow him up to three hours prior to the start of the race to provide the documentation required.  However, this has not been forthcoming and the race committee has no option but to not accept the entry of Wild Thing."

Wild Oats XI was first through the Heads

Seventy-seven yachts left Sydney yesterday, Boxing Day, to race 628 nautical miles to Hobart.