With the top of her mast hanging forlornly askew about 60 feet above the deck, Skandia crept across the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line at 6:23am today on a windless Derwent River. For skipper Grant Wharington the slow crawl up the mirror smooth river was the final irritation in a frustrating race, but at least he had finished.
'We could have turned on the motor and been here by midday yesterday but that’s not the race. You can be out of the race but you can still finish. One of the guys on board was on ABN Amro last year (retired after dismasting) and we couldn’t have anyone with none from two, it’s got to be one from two.'
Wharington is still trying to work out what happened at 2:30am yesterday when the top of Skandia’s mast snapped. 'We just had a small broach, not major. We’d done the same thing before and it wasn’t a problem.
'We did have a couple of little electronic things and thought maybe the backstay got over-tightened. The guys had set the right length when we were reaching but when it broke we noticed the ram was fully retracted. We got some water in the electronics and thought maybe it over tightened the backstay ram.'
Wharington has cleverly modified his maxi this year to maximise her handicap rating and believes the broken mast may have cost Skandia a place on the podium.
She was ahead of the current clubhouse leader Rosebud on handicap at the time of the failure. He is certain that he has proven that his five-year-old yacht is fully competitive against the new maxis.
'We were a lot faster than City Index Leopard downwind on the first day and that was the case yesterday (before the break). We were running them down quite fast. But it wasn’t to be.
'We know the boat is in good shape, it’s still competitive in IRC, so we’ll just have to come back next year and give it another go.
'Why wouldn’t you? What else do you do at Christmas?'