by Lisa Ratcliff
Melbourne maxi Etihad Stadium is the first high profile casualty of the 65th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, a disappointed owner/skipper Grant Wharington officially retiring at 2.05pm this afternoon citing rigging issues.
The 98 footer from Victoria started off the front line following the 1pm blast of cannon fire, pulling up at the Sow & Pigs navigation marks in Sydney Harbour and advising the race committee they weren’t comfortable with the rigging and were going to spend some time checking it within the confines of the Harbour.
The crew spent just over an hour sailing up and down the Harbour before Wharington decided he wasn’t comfortable going to sea.
Etihad Stadium is under motor heading to Sydney City Marine.
Wharington and his crew undertook a mammoth effort to get the boat to today’s start line. Fifteen days ago, Etihad Stadium was dismasted on route to Sydney, the replacement rig only arriving from France on Monday evening and the crew working around the clock to step the new mast.
Todd Leary’s She’s the Culprit from Tasmania was the first official race retirement, due to damage sustained at the first mark at 2:08:34 – she will be protesting over the incident
To acknowledge an infringement Bob Steel’s Quest, last year’s overall winner, radioed the race committee to advise they had completed a 720 degree penalty turn following a minor collision with Lion New Zealand at the Harbour mark. Robin and Annette’s Hawthorn’s Imagination also acknowledged a 720 degree penalty turn following an incident.
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race