Wharington considers Volvo campaign

Australian Grant Wharington is waiting for the choice of boat before confirming his entry to the next round the world race

Friday March 15th 2002, Author: Peter Campbell, Location: Australasia
Melbourne yachtsman Grant Wharington will enjoy warmer weather than his most recent ocean voyage when he skippers his 82-footer, Australian Skandia Wild Thing, in the 469 nautical mile race north from Sydney to Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

Wharington’s last ocean voyage was much longer and very much colder, around Cape Horn in leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race from Auckland, to Rio de Janeiro, a distance of 6,700 nautical, aboard the Norwegian entry, djuice. "It was cold, very cold, although when we rounded Cape Horn it was relatively warm and calm," Wharington said today, adding that it was a great experience."

"It has made me think about doing my own thing," Wharington said, explaining he would look seriously at putting together a campaign for the next round the world race. According to Wharington, the next round the world race will not be in Volvo Ocean 60s and he says that he will not make a decision until the type of yachts is confirmed.

In the meantime, Wharington is aiming at taking back-to-back line honours in the Forrester Properties Sydney-Mooloolaba Race with Australian Skandia Wild Thing .The race, sponsored by local developers Forrester Properties and the Maroochy Shire Council, starts from Sydney Harbour tomorrow week, 23 March, with a fleet of 33 yachts competing.

This will be the 82-footer’s first race since being knocked out of the last Sydney Hobart Yacht Race by that extraordinary "twister" - the huge waterspout that knocked the maxi flat on the first evening of the race.

"We are looking for a strong southerly to take us north to Mooloolaba; since we lengthened her from a 69-footer to an 82-footer in 2000 we have not had the chance to really test her out in a hard blow - although she has clocked 30 knots downwind," her owner/skipper said.

In anticipation of some strong winds, Wild Thing's crew next weekend will total 22 as against only 16 in last year's race.

"We have an excellent crew, with the steering shared between myself, Ian Johnton, Graham Taylor and Nigel Abbott, the navigation between Will Oxley, who skippered a yacht in the BT Global Challenge last year, and Scott Gilbert," Wharington added.

While the 33-boat fleet for Mooloolaba is eight fewer than last year, it certainly one full of quality with Australian Skandia Wild Thing's major rivals for line honours being race record-holder Brindabella, George Snow’s extended Jutson 80, Brindabella, and Sean Langman’s skiff-like Murray/Burns/Dovell flyer, Grundig, also extended to a 66-footer since last year.

Other big boats in the fleet include CYCA Vice Commodore Martin James’ Farr 65, Infinity III, Ian Treleaven’s former Volvo 60, Line 7, and Queenslander Bob Robertson with the modified Sydney 60, Eureka, skippered by Hugh Treharne.

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