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.


Essam El-Hadary set to make history as Hector Cuper plays down Egypt criticism

Updated 24 June 2018
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Essam El-Hadary set to make history as Hector Cuper plays down Egypt criticism

  • Essam El-Hadary looks set to become the oldest footballer to play at a World Cup on Monday
  • With both Egypt and Saudi Arabia unable to usurp Uruguay and Russia in Group A for a place in the knockout stages, the match is a dead rubber

VOLGOGRAD: Essam El-Hadary looks set to become the oldest footballer to play at a World Cup on Monday when his Egypt side face Saudi Arabia in their last match of the tournament. Although coach Hector Cuper refused to reveal his line-up, the selection of El-Hadary to appear alongside him in the pre-match press conference yesterday suggests the goalkeeper is in line to break Faryd Mondragon’s four-year-old record.
“Obviously I would be very happy if I participate in the match, but this is not certain,” said El-Hadary, who is 45 years, five months and 12 days old today.
“This decision, though, remains with the management of the team.”
With both Egypt and Saudi Arabia unable to usurp Uruguay and Russia in Group A for a place in the knockout stages, the match is a dead rubber. That has led to much speculation that Cuper, who had preferred Al-Ahly’s Mohammed El-Shenawy in their opening two defeats, might make a sentimental gesture by selecting Saudi Arabia-based El-Hadary.
If he plays, El-Hadary will comfortably beat the record of Colombia’s Mondragon, who made a substitute appearance in Brazil four years ago aged 43 years and three days.
“Obviously for any player to be involved, especially in a World Cup, is a high achievement. Even if it is a record set by myself, Essam El-Hadary, it will also be an achievement for Egypt,” said the Al-Taawoun goalkeeper, who made his debut for Egypt 22 years ago.
Egypt’s preparation for today’s match with the Green Falcons has been carried under a cloud of speculation after rumors emerged that players — including El-Hadary — had clashed with Cuper. Both coach and keeper dismissed such suggestions, with the Argentine manager insisting that he would not entertain questions unless evidence could be provided. El-Hadary added: “If I was making trouble in the team then I don’t deserve to be in the team.”
The final Group A match against Saudi Arabia offers both teams a chance to finish their respective World Cup campaigns on a positive note. While Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side lost 5-0 on the opening night to the hosts and were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Uruguay, Egypt endured similar defeats in reverse, losing in the last minute to the South Americans
before being made to pay for a period of poor concentration against Russia to lose 3-1.
Egypt, making their first appearance on the world stage since 1990, are chasing a first World Cup win. While Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is expected to be passed fit having featured in the Pharaohs’ last game, Cuper was coy when asked if he would ring the changes. He has used only 14 players across 180 minutes of football so far.
“For us, this is an important match because we want to end this participation in the World Cup with a good result,” he said.
“We’re playing for all the people in Egypt and want to give them joy. We want to end this World Cup with a triumph, even though this might be only a footnote in the future. For Egypt to win a first World Cup match would be something very important. What we want to do, then, is bow out in style in the next match.”
Cuper, who may also be bowing out of his time at the Egypt helm after today’s match, has come in for criticism in recent weeks. The 62-year-old, however, insists he is not listening to the critics and is focused on the job.
“Somebody who’s a critic is a critic, that’s his job,” Cuper said. “It’s very difficult to convince everyone. I want to convince my players, link up with them in a way that brings results.
“Criticism really doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t anger me. We have to see individually what our reality is. You look at it, analyze the situation, then you choose a certain line of action to achieve results. But making everybody happy? It’s impossible.”