Doing the Wild Thing

Australian yacht sets committee boat adrift. An extraordinary tale by Sian Cowen
I had an exciting and certainly eventful day when I went for my first maxi yacht experience on Grant Wharington's big green 82 foot Murray Burns & Dovell designed maxi sled Wild Thing. She has been sailed over from Australia and her visit is primarily geared towards winning the Rolex Fastnet Race starting this Sunday and then return to the Solent to take part in the America's Cup Jubilee celebrations. I arrived at the crew house to meet the crew at 0800 and our mode of transport out to the mooring off the Squadron was jet ski. I soon got the impression the Grant was a testosterone toy lover. Grant comes from Melbourne and started sailing with his father at the age of five in dinghies and soon moved on to bigger boats. In 1991 he bought his first yacht, an English 47, and so began the The Wild Thing series. All his boats since have retained this name and, of course, have increased in size. Grant still sails smaller vessels and is taking part in the Etchells Worlds in September but his real passion is with offshore sailing and he has competed in 13 Sydney to Hobart races and last year came second behind Ludde Ingvall's Nicorette. He hopes to sell Wild Thing while in Europe and wants to build a new boat to a spec that will achieve a maximum rating without water ballast in order to take the podium in the Sydney to Hobart Race. The forecast was for at least a force six and a lot of rain so the wet weather gear came out and we set off for a committee boat start down towards Portsmouth. The first incident was definitely one for the story books. During the pre-start we were sailing tight in