Canon Big Boat line up

The McDonald join up with Mike Slade's Canon

Thursday December 12th 2002, Author: Peter Campbell, Location: Australasia
A fleet of 18 boats, estimated to be worth more than $30 million dollars will line up tomorrow for Sydney Harbour’s annual sailing spectacle, the Canon Big Boat Challenge maxi showdown.

The addition of Lang Walker’s 138-foot super yacht, Kokomo, the largest entry in the event’s nine-year history, has raised the value of the fleet considerably, as has Neville Crichton’s new 90-foot maxi Alfa Romeo and the 97-foot UK maxi Canon, owned by Michael Slade.

As you would expect, boats of this class attract the top international sailors. Two of the best, Lisa and Neal MacDonald have dashed to Sydney, arriving just a day before the race, to sail on Canon. They will stay with Canon for the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

The couple both competed in the Sydney Hobart last year, as a leg of the 2001/2 Volvo Ocean Race, Lisa as skipper of the all-women crewed Amer Sports Too, Neal as skipper of ASSA ABLOY, which took line honours.

There will also be plenty of local talent aboard with 18-foot skiff champions David Witt and Sean Langman skippering Canon and the Open 66 Grundig respectively.

An increase in the fleet size is also due to invitations being extended to boats of 50 feet and upward, attracting entries from David Aspect’s Lyons 52 Aspect and its disabled crew, and Geoff Lavis’ UBS Wild Thing.

Big Owen Finegan is also going to get his feet wet for a change. The current Wallaby back rower will lend more than a bit of muscle to Nicorette, skippered by owner Ludde Ingvall. After 50 rugby tests it will be interesting to see what he makes of the adrenalin rush of a big maxi, fully powered up, flat out around the buoys cheek by jowl with other maxis just as big and just as determined.

The latest entry in the glamour fleet is the international America’s Cup class yacht Spirit, a regular competitor in the Canon Big Boat Challenge, and Ron Ellis’ downwind flyer Future Shock.

All of the line honours contenders for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, apart from the US Swan 86 Dreamland, have entered, offering an exciting preview to the Boxing Day big boat line-up.

“While it is a harbour race, the Canon Big Boat Challenge provides an excellent crew training opportunity and a good chance to flex some muscle, which psychologically can be important for skippers and crews prior to the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race,” said CYCA CEO Joe Goddard.

“It is also the only opportunity spectators get pre-Hobart Race, to see a maxi fleet of this quality racing inshore, close enough to be enjoyed by those on the water and the land,” he added.

The forecast for Friday’s maxi race, which begins off Point Piper at 12.30pm, is for light and variable winds from the north-east and fine weather, typical Sydney summer conditions that will make for a spectacular day’s racing.

The line up:

Yacht Sail No. Owner/Skipper
Aftershock 884 Colin O'Neil
Alfa Romeo NZL80 Neville Crichton
Aspect Computing 7878 David Pescud
Australian Skandia Wild Thing M10 Grant Wharington
Brindabella C1 George Snow
Broomstick 8848 Michael Cranitch
Canon Leopard GBR1R Mike Slade 6037 Robert Robertson
Future Shock 5980 Ron Ellis
Grundig A99 Sean Langman
Heaven Can Wait MH3 Warren Johns
Kokomo 8808 Lang Walker
Magnavox MH888 S Zemanek/P Sorensen/J Hodder/Gray
Merit Navigator 8679 Ian Treleaven
Nicorette SWE 11111 Ludde Ingvall
Spirit Aus21 Steffan Jacob
Sydney 6070 Charles Curran
UBS Wild Thing 1014 Geoff Lavis

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