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Henri-Lloyd 2022 September - Sailing Sale - YY LEADERBOARD

Spinnaker tales - Wharington to defend line honours in Mooloolaba race

by Ian Grant on 8 Mar 2001
Mornington Yacht Club skipper Grant Wharington will defend his line honours title in the Forrester Properties Sydney Mooloolaba ocean race starting on Saturday April 7th.

Wharington's Wild Thing modified to a full blown 83ft maxi since her exciting 7 minute win over the race record holder Brindabella last year will be pressed to retain the title against an impressive bracket of big boats including George Snow's Brindabella and the super fast open 60 Xena (Sean Langman).

The speed potential of this trio have the capability to lower Brindabella's 1994 race time of 44 hours 1 minute 43 second but they will need a high percentage of reaching and running winds to blow over the deck and hold onto the required 10.68 knot hourly average speed.

Xena the smaller sloop of the three which has been clocked at 27 knots reaching across Sydney Harbour will outpace the heavier displacement Brindabella and Wild Thing if there is any hint of fresh Sou'east winds.

Her principal helmsman Sean Langman and the fearless David Witt noted for his helming skills to sail on 'the edge' are excited about the long range forecast and the possibility of moderate to fresh trade winds.

An example of Xena's down wind speed was placed on notice when she led the Telstra Sydney-Hobart race ahead of Nokia's record pace in spinnaker sailing winds on Boxing Day night last year.

Unfortunately sail damage and concern over the load on a suspect mast forced them to retire.

However that experience is history and the fully cranked up Xena will prove to be a headache for Wild Thing and Brindabella.

Naturally skipper Grant Wharington will not willingly surrender his line honours trophy and has plans on beating last years slow time of over 66 hours because his crew have a shipping deadline to meet in Melbourne later in April.

Wild Thing will be shipped to Europe to contest the international regatta at Cowes followed by the Fastnet Race where she will be matched against last years Sydney-Hobart champion Nicorette (Ludde Ingvall).

Interest will also focus on the local Sunshine Coast sloop Eureka jointly skippered by Bob Robertson and Hugh Treharne following their recent IMS handicap win in the Wollongong-Sydney race.

A confident Bob Robertson believes the Eureka crew are over due for a big race performance and feels they have to be considered as a top five chance.

But the Eureka crew will need to be on the pace day and night to match the proven handicap rated speed of Sydney Hobart winners AFR Midnight Rambler (Ed Psaltis) and Ausmaid jointly skippered by owner Kevan Pearce and sailing master Roger Hickman.

Both of these yachts have won the toughest Hobart races in history with AFR Midnight Rambler scoring her success in the tragic storm of 1998 while Ausmaid clinched victory last December after slogging over 500 miles into the teeth of cold squalls and sleet.

As a result of these performances Ausmaid and AFR Midnight Rambler will be the Handicap favourites but they to will have to first master the physical and tactical demanding miles to log the fastest handicap rated speed between Sydney Heads and Mooloolaba's Alexandra Head.

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