sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – Is Wild Thing the Wild Card?
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – Is Wild Thing the Wild Card?

'Grant Wharington’s (Maxi Wild Thing) campaign gets off to a solid start in the first afternoon of the race - Rolex Sydney Hobart 2011'    © Rolex/Daniel Forster

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 will always have its favorites and underdogs. But for Grant Wharington, whose boat ‘Wild Thing’ is considered a dark horse in the Boxing Day race, the true winner will not be determined not on the betting table but in the volatile seas.

At about $1.50, the bookies are ranking Wild Oats XI firm line honours favourite in this 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart; then they have Ragamuffin-Loyal at $3.25 and Lahana at $10 – and finally you get to Grant (Wharo) Wharington’s Wild Thing, at $13.

Pretty generous odds considering the punters, the bookies, Wild Thing’s rivals, not even Wharington himself knows just how fast his new-look super maxi is.

The black hulled 100 footer truly is the dark horse in the dash to Hobart.

Since last year, there have been massive changes to Wild Thing, including a completely new back end. The last nine and a half metres of the formerly 98 foot (30 metre) super maxi have been chopped off and a new 10 metre stern glued on, bringing the hull length up to 100 feet and widening the stern so that the sides now run parallel from the widest point new the mast.

A new underwater shape, plus the crew can now get their weight right aft when the big boat is planing on a broad reach. There is also all new titanium standing rigging and a completely new wardrobe of sails.

'There’s not much of the original boat now,' Wharington says. 'We’ve kept the 6.8 metre deep keel we put on in 2009 (originally Wild Thing’s keel was a modest 4.8 metres, lengthened to 5.2 in 2005). She’s better now than when she was brand new; when she won line honours in 2003.'

Of course her rivals are getting faster too. Each winter, yachties tinker with their boats. It fills in those short, windless winter days and super maxi owners have the resources to tinker more than most.

Wild Oats XI has publicly revealed her new for’ard retractable centreboard and keel winglets, to improve her light wind performance, as will her massive new lightweight Code Zero. The team reckon if they had averaged a gain of just one second a mile last year they would have been in Hobart 11 minutes earlier. The changes have been made to find seconds, minutes – possibly even hours. Nothing like the performance impact Wharington will be looking for from the modifications he has made to Wild Thing.

The thing is, though, no-one knows how big an impact.

The final pieces for the new rigging arrived from Sri Lanka while Wild Thing was on her way down to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia from Queensland; the brand new main arrived in Sydney from Los Angeles a day after the yacht.

None were in time for the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge, the only opportunity Wharington or his opponents might have had to compare performances before the Boxing Day start. Wild Thing is the Great Unknown, much more so than Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin-Loyal, of the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart.

Wharington’s boat is now 4 tonnes lighter than her rivals. Her underwater shape is closer, now, to Wild Oats XI’s. Could she be as fast?

It’s the sort of cat-among-the-pigeons scenario that no doubt appeals to the brash young (for a super maxi owner) Wharington. A tradie by background (a carpenter), ex Victorian Wharo is a rough diamond in the smooth world of big time yachting.

You would never mistake this straight talking, bit-of-a-larrikin charmer for a merchant banker or lawyer. He gets his hands filthy on Wild Thing. There isn’t a bolt or hydraulic valve on the boat he doesn’t know personally.

Wharo seems to have worked out long ago that he will be dead a long time. Life is an adventure, not a career – and he loves flat out fast boats. His first Wild Thing, 25 years ago was widely seen as an affront to the more staid racing yachts of the time. Not for nothing did he call her Wild Thing.

'When we started in the Kenwood Cup in 1990, we were the mavericks,' he says with a grin. 'Those were the IOR days,' he says, when speeds of 10 knots, even on a maxi, were something to talk about.

Sports journalists love him. Articulate, accessible; he’s always good for a quote and most years lobs at least one bombshell. He championed canting keels on big boats early on, and paid the price in 2004 of pushing the boundaries when the boat capsized, keel-less in Bass Strait.

Traditionalists were horrified when he opted for electric winches on a racing boat. 'Initially it was a cost thing,' he explains. 'Electric winches were $300,000 cheaper than conventional pedestal winches. Then we realised these small electric motors replaced 10 coffee grinders cluttering up the deck; it was practically a no-brainer.'

Not surprisingly Wharington feels vindicated. The IOR tortoises have given way to the exhilarating hares of Loki and the TP52s. To cant or not to cant, is the question for those chasing a handicap win, but no question at all for the line honours contenders where speed, not rating is king.

Electric winches are the rule on the big boats. And so, for that matter, are PR advisers feeding the media. 'If you look at UBS Wild Thing, my original Melbourne Osaka boat 25 years ago, she is still immaculate and looks remarkably similar to today’s TP52s,' he offers.

Grant Wharrington, owner of WILD THING -  Andrea Francolini - Rolex ©   Click Here to view large photo


Wharington believes that tinkering at the edges, making existing boats go faster, is the immediate future for the top end of the fleet. 'These are so expensive to build no-one is going to build a new one, you need to tweak what you’ve got,' he explains.

'The next big speed advance will be in saving weight, including crew weight,' he says.

Electric winches did away with a lot of hefty prop forwards on the coffee grinders, and furling sails have culled a few more gorillas. 'You don’t need so many people with furling sails. We’re thinking we might try a furling mainsail next year, and if it works, we might use it to go to Hobart.'

Though he will sail with a full crew of 18 this year, he thinks less crew, and crew weight will be the future. He has six women in the crew this year, and even amongst the men, no real monsters.

Wild Thing has taken a rating hit with all the changes. The emphasis is very much on getting there first, but of course, first she has to get there at all. After the high of the 2003 line honours win, it has been a wild ride for everyone.

Capsizes, last minute scrambling for Alfa Romeo’s spare mast from the south of France in 2009, limping into Hobart with the top mast section dangling high above the deck in 2007 and retiring after suffering sail damage early in last year’s race.

There is still a huge amount of work to do between now and Boxing Day, but Wharo seems to feed off high drama, impending deadlines, even disaster. 'If you’re going to step off the back of a boat into a life raft in Bass Strait, do it with six helicopters and an 80 foot police launch hovering around you,' he is able to joke about 2004.

Some years you win, some you lose.

In modern sport, even the champion teams like the All Blacks, Manchester United, Geelong, the Melbourne Storm, like to know everything there is to know about their opponents, and then some. There is nothing as irritating as a long-odds ambush.

Wild Oats XI and Ragamuffin/Loyal deserve their short odds, but they will have to wait until the first afternoon, as they storm past Wollongong and Jervis Bay towards Green Cape, before they know whether the bookies have got it right about Wharo.


by Jim Gale

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=104870

5:10 AM Thu 20 Dec 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

Related News Stories:

21 Dec 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart - Lisa Blair wins last-minute crew spot
20 Dec 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart – Kiwi Olympic wonder bound for big race
19 Dec 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – The Rise of the Beneteaus
19 Dec 2012  Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – Sailors with disabilities make return
19 Dec 2012  Wild Oats XI seeks Rolex Sydney Hobart clean sweep
19 Dec 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart - Love & War in the rigours of the NSW south coast
18 Dec 2012  Clipper Race champ still hopes to land crew place in Boxing Day's race
18 Dec 2012  Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – Warwick Sherman living life to fullest
18 Dec 2012  Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2012 – Ragamuffin-Loyal on track
18 Dec 2012  Rolex Sydney Hobart - Kinsmans have the Race in their crosshairs
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World





















Express 27 National Championship overall + Video by Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US,














America's Cup: Louis Vuitton Cup's Yves Carcelle dies at 66 *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,












Audi Melges 20 World Championship - ‘Samba Pa Ti’ crowned champion by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,










Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Final race to decide champion by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,










Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show - 13 things to See and do
Ronstan Bridge to Bridge 2014 - Images by Erik Simonson
Volvo Ocean Race: Update from Team Vestas Wind in images
ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne - Australian Sailing Team signs up
2014 18' Skiff International Regatta - Day 3
America's Cup: Oracle Team USA sailors place on world regatta circuits
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Classic Garda conditions on day 2
PWA Alacati World Cup - Intense competition on day 3
America's Cup: 'The Doc' appointed as Commercial Commissioner
Wake Park Triple Crown - Registration open for final stop
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 2 images by Stefano Gattini
Volvo Ocean Race - Two more join Dongfeng Race Team
OHPRI Teen Summer Camps make a splash
East to West: A profile of Volvo Ocean Race crew Team Dongfeng
Extreme Sailing Series - First-ever Turkish team to race in Istanbul
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Race 4 images by Max Ranchi
New Around Britain and Ireland Monohull 40ft and less world record
Detroit Cup - Fifth place finish a difficult result for Neptune Racing
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Alessandro Rombelli's 'STIG' leads
Volvo Ocean Race: Call of Duty comes first for Team Alvimedica
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 1 images by Stefano Gattini   
Helping boaters understand weather basics   
PWA Alacati World Cup - Exciting finish on day 2   
Match 40s find the surface again + Video   
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 1 images by Max Ranchi   
Clagett Regatta names first Executive Director   
Transatlantic Race - Fleet expanded for 2015 edition   
IFDS World Championship overall   
Anna Tunnicliffe: Alinghi finishes second - Extreme Sailing Series   
2014 18' Skiff International Regatta - Day 2   
2014 Audi Melges 20 World Championship - It's go time in Garda   
2nd Annual Keith Dinsmoor Regatta September 13-14   
Aldo Alessio Regatta - Three days of tight racing   
PWA Alacati World Cup - First blood to Van Der Steen and Offringa   
Oakcliff Sailing hosts the Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX Nationals + Video   
International 18ft Skiff Regatta underway on San Francisco Bay   
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 - Quality fleet for Maxi Classic   
Sailing Champions League - which is Europe's best sailing club?   
Weta fun at the Wine & Roses Regatta   
Extreme Sailing Series: The Wave, Muscat claims victory on Cardiff Bay   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT