Wild Thing ban mars Sydney-Hobart start

Updated 26 December 2012
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Wild Thing ban mars Sydney-Hobart start

SYDNEY: The Sydney to Hobart yacht race got off to a controversial start yesterday with fancied supermaxi Wild Thing ruled out at the last minute due to paperwork issues.
Race favorite Wild Oats XI — tipped for a sixth line honors win and hoping to clock a new race record — led the 76-vessel fleet out of Sydney Harbor in record time and took a commanding lead early boosted by a strong southerly wind.
But the start of the annual 628-nautical mile bluewater classic was overshadowed by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA)’s decision to bar Grant Wharington’s 100-footer Wild Thing due to paperwork problems.
The 2003 line honors winner was among the top three race favorites but officials scratched it just three hours before the start citing incomplete documentation of major modifications extending the vessel to 100 feet.
It would have been Wharington’s 25th Sydney to Hobart and the veteran skipper said he had been “blindsided” and was “dumbfounded” at the decision.
“We are absolutely devastated to be told at the 11th hour that we are unable to race to Hobart,” a furious Wharington told reporters.
“We’re a bit stuck for words as to why it happened, the situation, we provided the documentation — I’ve got it in my hand.” Wharington said he had been granted approval to race on Wednesday and had received no indication in the hours before the decision that there was a problem.
He attended the final pre-race briefing Wednesday and was doing the last run-through with his crew on board the yacht, his phone switched off, when race officials announced Wild Thing’s disqualification to the media.
“As everybody turned their phones back on, (there were) obviously hundreds of messages that it was all over the press, that we were knocked out, and we were absolutely dumbfounded,” he said, blasting it as “nonsensical” and claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy.
CYCA commodore Howard Piggott said officials had been working with Wharington for days on the documents, giving him until 10:00 a.m. on race morning to file the necessary proof that his modifications met international standards.
“However, that has not been forthcoming, and the race committee has no option but to not accept the entry of Wild Thing,” Piggott said.
“This is the final decision of the race committee that puts safety first,” he added.

Piggott said it was disappointing but insisted the CYCA had made every effort and the matter was “out of our hands.”
“I believe we just have to get on with it now and go out and yacht race,” he said.
It is not the first time the daunting annual dash down Australia’s southeast coast has been dogged by controversy — as recently as last year there was an official jury protest accusing line honors winner Investec Loyal of misconduct.
Catastrophic weather during the 1998 edition sank five yachts and claimed six lives.
Wild Oats XI — piped in the final stages by Loyal in 2011 — is the hot favorite to take line honors for a sixth time and favorable winds may see its record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds set in 2005 tumble.
It made an impressive start, taking a one-minute, 35-second lead as it steamed out of the harbor under 20-knot gusts, ahead of fellow maxis Loyal, Black Jack, Loki and Lahana.
Conditions favor the larger boats, with a 60+ footer expected to be first over the line and the coveted line and handicap honors double on the cards for the first time since 2005, when Wild Oats made it a triple with a new race record.
Handicap honors take into account each boat’s dimensions, including sail area, whether it has a canting or fixed keel and age.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 8 min 57 sec ago
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”