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Wild Thing kicked out of Sydney to Hobart race

Posted by: Rupert Guiness for The Age | 26 December, 2012 - 11:18 AM
Wild Thing during last year's race. (Photo: Quentin Jones)

Super maxi Wild Thing has been sensationally kicked out of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race just hours before the 1pm start on Sydney Harbour for failing to provide mandatory documentation detailing recent modifications on the boat.

The exclusion of Wild Thing, which is owned and skippered by Grant Wharington, was decided by the race committee at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) at Rushcutter's Bay this morning.

In a statement CYCA commodore Howard Piggott said the race committee: "would not be accepting the entry of the boat Wild Thing as a result of non compliance with a notice of race, in particular notice of race 4.1 dealing with documentation to be lodged for verification of construction requirements.

"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. The race committee has no option but to not accept the entry of Wild Thing."

Piggott said the issue related to recent modifications that have been made to Wild Thing, and the subsequent need for Wharington to provide statements from both the designer and the builder "which confirms that they respectively designed and built the boat in accordance with ABS [American Bureau of Shipping] guide."

Piggott said the decision was "final" and that the committee has tried to get "a message to [Wharington] that he does not interfere with our race fleet."

"He [Wharington on Wild Thing] will be in the vicinity [of the race start] but he will be spoken to by the authorities who will not permit him in the race area. Every effort has been made to give him notice."

There had been rumours all week about Wild Thing's status, and speculation increased on Christmas Eve when Sydney to Hobart race director Tim Cox said at the race briefing that Wild Thing still "owed" him "heaps" of overdue paperwork.

Wild Thing, one of four fancied maxis vying for line honours in the 68th edition of the race, has not raced since undergoing a number of modifications with no one quite sure how fast the refurbished yacht is.

For this year's race, Wharington widened the stern of Wild Thing and extended the boat length by two feet.

The black-hulled Wild Thing, which has been moored at Birkenhead Point near Drummoyne since arriving in Sydney for the race from Southport in Queensland, has also been equipped with new titanium standing rigging and sails.

Wharington, one of the event's more charismatic figures, is accustomed to Sydney to Hobart drama - before and during the race.

His quest for speed has led him to becoming a pioneer in the sport, where a campaign can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars simply to maintain a yacht, let alone modify it.

Wharington was one of the first to use canting keels, and he suffered for it in 2004 when his boat lost its keel and capsized in Bass Strait. He was then pivotal behind the use of electric winches that virtually made grinders redundant on board, or at best in urgent need of upskilling.

In the 2010 Sydney to Hobart start, Wharington's Wild Thing collided with a media boat, but was able to continue sailing.

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Huge news, all of Briiiiiiiiiiighton can't stop talking about this. Even those orange ladies with the face lifts are excited.

    Matt -proudly Un-Australan Thursday 27 December, 2012 - 8:16 AM
  • Well said David. Real sportsman endeavour to comply with requirements and not act like spoilt brats.

    ARE Wednesday 26 December, 2012 - 8:37 PM
  • Arrogance personified !!

    Vera Wednesday 26 December, 2012 - 7:01 PM
  • Sometimes, even the wealthy must abide by rules others have set, instead of being the ones to set them.

    David T. Wednesday 26 December, 2012 - 4:11 PM

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