Skandia limps home

Grant Wharington's maxi into Hobart with broken mast head

Saturday December 29th 2007, Author: Jim Gale, Location: United Kingdom
With the top of her mast hanging forlornly askew about 60 feet above the deck, Skandia crept across the Rolex Sydney Hobart finish line at 6:23am today on a
windless Derwent River. For skipper Grant Wharington the slow crawl up the
mirror smooth river was the final irritation in a frustrating race, but at least he
had finished.

“We could have turned on the motor and been here by midday yesterday but
that’s not the race. You can be out of the race but you can still finish. One of the
guys on board was on ABN AMRO last year (retired after dismasting) and we
couldn’t have anyone with none from two, it’s got to be one from two.”

Wharington is still trying to work out what happened at 2:30am yesterday when
the top of Skandia’s mast snapped. “We just had a small broach, not major. We’d done the same thing before and it wasn’t a problem.

“We did have a couple of little electronic things and thought maybe the backstay
got over-tightened. The guys had set the right length when we were reaching
but when it broke we noticed the ram was fully retracted. We got some water in
the electronics and thought maybe it over tightened the backstay ram.”

Wharington has cleverly modified his maxi this year to maximise her handicap
rating and believes the broken mast may have cost Skandia a place on the
podium.

She was ahead of the current clubhouse leader Rosebud on handicap at the
time of the failure. He is certain that he has proven that his five-year-old yacht is
fully competitive against the new maxis.

“We were a lot faster than City Index Leopard downwind on the first day and
that was the case yesterday (before the break). We were running them down
quite fast. But it wasn’t to be.

“We know the boat is in good shape, it’s still competitive in IRC, so we’ll just
have to come back next year and give it another go.

“Why wouldn’t you? What else do you do at Christmas?”

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