26 Dec 2012

Skipper also wild after yacht blocked from Sydney-Hobart

5:45 pm on 26 December 2012

Maxi yacht skipper Grant Wharington says he's been blindsided after his $A5 million Wild Thing was ruled out of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's race committee made the decision to pull the 2003 line honours winner just three hours before the official start, citing a failure by the boat's owners to produce sufficient documentation regarding its design and build modifications.

Wharington claims he was initially given approval to race and the it was subsequently withdrawn.

CYCA commodore Howard Piggott delivered the news while Wharington had his phone switched off, the skipper giving his crew a pre-race briefing at the time.

Wild Thing has undergone a number of changes and been lengthened to the permitted maximum of 100 feet.

But Mr Piggott says the boat's owners failed to provide the paperwork confirming the boat was designed and built in accordance with the American Bureau of Shipping rules.

Piggott says the race committee's decision is final.

He says Wild Thing has been marked as a non-starter and a message sent to skipper Grant Wharington not interfere with the race.

Wharington's had a tempestuous relationship with the event in the past.

In 2004 Wharington and his crew were forced to pull out of the race due to a keel problems and in 2009 he had to race against the clock to get the boat ready for the race after a mast broke during delivery, from Melbourne to Sydney.

Two years ago Wild Thing, the 2003 line honours winner, was involved in a collision with a media boat.

Wild Thing was regarded as third favourite for line honours after Wild Oats XI and Ragamuffin Loyal.

Two New Zealand boats are among the 76 strong fleet competing, and one of them is carrying London Olympics medallist Blair Tuke.

Tuke who won a silver medal in the 470 class with Peter Burling, is making his debut in the blue water classic on board Rikki.

The other New Zealand boat in the fleet is 50-foot Akatea.

There are five overseas entries in all, including the first Lithuanian entry the Volvo 60 Ambersail.