Skipper goes wild at no-sail ruling

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 26 Desember 2012 | 20.01

The race committee of the Sydney-Hobart announces it won't accept the entry of Wild Thing just hours before this year's race kicks off.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards says there's a good chance the super-maxi will break its own Rolex Sydney Hobart race record.

Rival skippers Mark Richards from Wild Oats XI and Syd Fischer from Ragamuffin Loyal anticipate a good Sydney To Hobart battle.

Skipper Grant Wharington will not race Wild Thing in today's Sydney to Hobart. Source: Herald Sun

FOR years she has been the Sydney to Hobart's highest-profile drama queen.

And yesterday skipper Grant Wharington's Wild Thing again took centre stage.

The 100-footer was sensationally denied a place in the race just three hours before the start when officials ruled its connections had not properly submitted their paperwork.

A shattered Wharington was adamant his 100-footer could have won both line and handicap honours in the great race.

On an extraordinary day of drama, a devastated Wharington labelled a compromise offer to sail to Hobart instead of racing an insult.

Gallery: Incredible pics from the race

He said he was heartbroken for his crew, who were kept on shore as Wild Oats XI led the fleet out of Sydney Harbour and into open sea.

Declaring "I will be back", Wharington said he would consider legal action over the late scrubbing of his yacht from the 68th sailing of the ocean classic.

Wharington left the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia just before 10am yesterday to head to the start line, believing he had completed all the required paperwork relating to his entry.

An hour later he heard his yacht - recently modified and extended to become a 100-footer - had been ruled out of the start.

Rolling story: Sydney to Hobart latest

He rushed back to the club to make a last-minute - but unsuccessful - plea to race officials to clear his entry.

"I am heartbroken for the crew. They worked so hard," said Wharington, who was to have sailed in his 25th Hobart in a crew of six women and 13 men.

"I just can't believe this. I'm shattered.

"I will be back for sure but this could have been the year. "We could have potentially taken the double (line and handicap), maybe even the treble (with race record)."

Earlier, the race committee said it would not accept Wild Thing's entry due to issues with paperwork "dealing with documentation to be lodged for verification of construction requirements". Yachts must lodge paperwork covering their construction, modifications, their rating and compulsory safety checks before being approved to start the 628 nautical mile race.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore Howard Piggott said: "The race committee has no option but to not accept the entry of Wild Thing."

Late yesterday Wharington maintained his documentation relating to Wild Thing's modifications was up to scratch and that the yacht should have been allowed to race.

"We are absolutely devastated to be told at the 11th hour that we are unable to race to Hobart," Wharington said.

"Would you believe we have been offered the ability to race down or sail down the course and we can go in on the radio skeds (reports) and leave the tracker on, which is an insult. We are a bit stuck for words as to why it has happened in this situation.

"We have provided the documentation. I have got it in my hand.

"We were given an approval on Wednesday (that) we were able to go and subsequently (that was) withdrawn, so we are obviously devastated by the news.

"It's pretty disappointing for us and our team who have worked so hard to get this incredible boat to the position it is now."

After surging to an early lead in the race yesterday, super maxi Wild Oats XI was well clear of the pack last night in southeasterly breezes of about 15 knots.

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