Big Challenge for Etihad Stadium
Supermaxi yacht ‘Etihad Stadium’ is now facing a race against time to compete in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart race.
Last week the skipper, Grant Wharington and crew of the former ‘Wild Thing’ were on a high when it was announced Etihad Stadium would be the maxi yacht’s naming rights partner for this year’s event.
The partnership was formally recognised at a launch alongside both ‘Etihad Stadiums’ at the Docklands. Stadium CEO, Ian Collins AM and Mr Wharington, the owner/skipper of the 95 foot yacht both expressed optimism about the new arrangement.
Etihad Stadium/Wild Thing has a superb record in the Sydney Hobart – she took line honours in 2003 and has finished in the top three to reach Hobart’s Castray Esplanade on no less than eight occasions.
With the stadium in the background and the yacht berthed in front of Waterfront City at the Docklands, Mr Collins said he was delighted to play a small role in attempting to help Grant and his crew seek further success in the famous race.
Mr Wharington said the blue water classic was becoming more competitive every year, and the support of partners such as Etihad Stadium was crucial if the yacht was to achieve additional success.
Things have, however, gone a little awry since the naming rights announcement. While making her way back to Sydney, the yacht lost her rig off Deal Island in Bass Strait casting some doubts over her starting position in this year’s event.
The first piece of good news was that the yacht and crew were able to safely navigate their way under motor back to Eden in NSW; but then reality set in that there is every chance the yacht will not be able to compete in this year’s event.
Two members of the crew have flown to New Zealand to meet with Southern Spars, who are world leaders in the design and construction of carbon fibre masts. At the same time, moves are afoot to transport new sales from Nice in the South of France.
To get ‘Etihad Stadium’ to the starter’s gun requires a huge challenge.
The team at Etihad Stadium has its fingers crossed that its new naming rights partner will not only make it to Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day but also go on and give a good account of herself in the famous race to Hobart.