Keel problem for Skandia maxi

Bruce Montgomery reports on the conclusion of the Aussie blue water classic, the Brisbane-Gladstone Race,

Sunday April 16th 2006, Author: Bruce Montgomery, Location: Australasia
When problems with its canting keel only 50 miles into the race enforced the retirement of the maxi Skandia on Friday night, all hopes of a record run in the 308 nautical mile went with her.

Skandia has been looking to break 18 hours. Peter Hollis’ Heaven Can Wait sailed past the disabled Skandia to take line honours.

It was the slowest race in 10 years, not the sprint that had drawn Skandia’s owner Grant Wharington all the way from Melbourne to compete, though not with him on board.

Heaven Can Wait, built for Sydney yachtsman Warren Johns after he survived a heart attack, finished at 2216 on Saturday night for an elapsed time of 35 hours 16 minutes 32 seconds and a course average of speed of 8.73 knots. It was the slowest race since Hammer Of Queensland took more than 41 hours for the race in 1996.

Volvo Ocean Race skipper Wharington, bound for Baltimore to re-enter the VOR in his yacht Brunel, had placed Skandia in the hands of charterer Kerry Spencer and a composite Skandia/ Bobsled crew for the race. She had a microchip problem in the computer controlling her canting keel mechanism and was forced to retire.

Hollis reported nothing over 19 knots of wind during the race and then a fading breeze as Heaven Can Wait fought to beat the tide up Gladstone harbour.

Pre-race favourite for corrected time Bill Wild’s Wedgetail was two hours behind and had to fight the four-knot current to cross the line.

Third across the line was Kevin Miller’s Quest of Queensland.

Winner of the race on corrected time was fourth across the line, Michael Balkin’s former Hong Kong Admirals Cup Mumm 36 Corum. It was only his second major ocean race.

Melbourne orthodontist Martyn Riley skippered his catamaran, the appropriately named Raw Nerve, to win the multihull class. “We had wind over the deck all the way but it never offered any hairstanding moments or sprint type speed in fact it was painfully slow in Moreton Bay,” Riley said.

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