Doing the wild thing

Grant Wharington - 'King of Bass Strait'

Wednesday January 8th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Grant Wharington's Maxi yacht Australian Skandia Wild Thing has powered
across the Bass Strait, taking a third off the existing Devonport to Melbourne record of 19 hrs, 32 mins, 58 secs set in 1998, with a time of 13 hours, 7 minutes and 21 seconds. Calculations put their average speed as 15.00 knots, breaking yet another record as the fastest average speed maintained in a yacht race in Australian waters.

Crowned 'King of the Bass Strait' and earning himself a tidy $10,000, an elated Wharington officially finished the race at 18.08, over 2 hours after crossing through the Heads and breaking the record.

"We left Devonport at 2.40 this morning and have gone hard at it the whole way" he said "Of course we had chosen the most extreme weather we could pick in the window to achieve optimum speed sailing conditions, and it was pretty tough out there. Winds averaged between 25 and 30 knots most of the way, with gusts of over 40 knots and, after our champagne sailing ride to Hobart it was reassuring to find the Bass Strait back to her treacherous best. It was very wet and bumpy, helming was much like trying to control an 83 foot long roller coaster with the bloke in the next car pointing a fire hose
right at you.

In fact, all of our crew spent the entire race in full wet weather gear and many wore ski goggles to combat the spray, and give themselves a chance of seeing what they were doing and where they were going. This race has given the guys a real taste of the conditions we experienced many times during the Volvo Ocean Race. Just fantastic"

Grant went on to praise Team Australian Skandia Wild Thing's meteorologist, Will Oxley "All credit must go to Will - he worked so hard at getting this crucial weather window exactly right and was still hard at it, refining his model at 2.30 this morning. He has been following this potential window for a week, and the weather patterns for much longer, and should be very pleased that his hard work has paid off as he did get it exactly right - we did not deviate from our plan once. Congratulations should also go to the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria for staging such a bold event - I can see a huge future for this type of race and feel sure that numbers will be way up next year."

Wharington is still the proud holder of the Brisbane to Osaka and Melbourne to Osaka speed records and will be pleased to add this prestigious record to his collection, but is in no doubt that he must continue to strive for more. "I can't wait to get my new yacht in the water and challenge some more records. I feel sure that many of my Maxi racing rivals will be keen to wrest this crown from my Victorian head and would not be surprised to see more activity on the Devonport to Port Philip run now that I hold the record. For the meantime I'm delighted to be home and have another trophy to add to the cabinet"

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