Part of complete coverage on
Wild Oats XI leads after rival Wild Thing prevented from starting Sydney-Hobart
December 27, 2012 -- Updated 0647 GMT (1447 HKT)
Wild Oats XI leads the fleet out of Sydney harbor on Boxing Day in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart yacht race.
- Five-time line honors winner Wild Oats XI leads Rolex Sydney-Hobart
- Wild Oats hoping to set race record for 628-mile bluewater classic
- Long-time rival Wild Thing disqualified before start
- Officials unhappy with modifications to the super-maxi
(CNN) -- Favorite Wild Oats XI led going into the first night of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race after fellow super maxi Wild Thing was prevented from starting on Boxing Day by race officials.
Wild Oats, last year's line honors winner Ragamuffin Loyal, and Wild Thing were expected to dominate the 628-mile bluewater classic with hopes of a new race record in strong southerly winds.
But race organizers, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), scratched Grant Wharington's Wild Thing just three hours before the start, citing incomplete documentation.
Wharington's yacht had undergone modifications to extend it to 100 feet, but they fell foul of the rules, leaving an angry skipper to vent his feelings to the media.
Best sailors of 2012 crowned
Gabart: It's a big moment for me
Oracle Racing steps up its training
The exclusive world of super yachts
"We are absolutely devastated to be told at the 11th hour that we are unable to race to Hobart," a furious Wharington told AFP.
"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."
Official Rolex Sydney-Hobart website
But CYCA commodore Howard Piggott defended their decision, saying they had warned Wharington his paperwork did not prove the modifications met international standards.
"The race committee has no option but to not accept the entry of Wild Thing," Piggott told the official race website.
"This is the final decision of the race committee that puts safety first," he added.
Last year's race was also hit by a controversy after Investec Loyal (now renamed Ragamuffin Loyal) pipped Wild Oats XI for line honors in a dramatic finish in Tasmania.
The winner had to survive a protest from the race committee which alleged one of its crew members had gleaned information from a TV helicopter crew about the sails being deployed by Wild Oats.
Without Wild Thing, the 76-strong fleet made the usual spectacular exit from Sydney Harbor with Wild Oats establishing an early advantage.
But hopes of breaking its own race record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds set in 2005 appeared to be fading with Ragamuffin Loyal, skippered by 85-year-old Syd Fischer, in hot pursuit.
Behind the super maxis, the rest of the fleet is battling for handicap honors, which take into account each yacht's dimensions and sail area.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
"Sometimes, I fly the drone with my head in a trash bag so I don't get salt spray from the sea on my equipment," says drone operator Justice L Bentz.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
If some naval architects get their way, superyachts of the future will look more like floating pieces of art than bog standard boats.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT)
This is no treasure hunt for a casket of gold at the bottom of the ocean.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1529 GMT (2329 HKT)
Navigate the world's most treacherous seas, crossing 73,000 nautical kilometers in a confined space with stressed-out, sleep-deprived crewmates.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
Personal submarines, jetpacks, even 'walking boats.'
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 1136 GMT (1936 HKT)
Over 300 miles from the nearest ocean, competitors in one of the world's fastest sailing races prepare for battle.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1544 GMT (2344 HKT)
London's new superyacht hotel is so enormous, authorities had to lower the water level by five meters just to fit it under a bridge.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
His mast-walking stunts have attracted over 3.5 million hits on YouTube, but Alex Thomson just wants to get back to doing what he does best.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Elizabeth Meyer talks to CNN's Mainsail about the "Armageddon battle" to restore the pioneering J-class boat Endeavour.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
Ship captains of the future won't be salty sea dogs with their hand at the helm, and the ocean at their feet.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
Like "Downton Abbey," Henley's Royal Regatta reminds its visitors of an England of old. But for how much longer?
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Nine months at sea, one change of clothes, freeze-dried food and a strange language. Could you cope?
June 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Can a $134 million budget and the royal seal of approval bring the coveted America's Cup back to British shores for the first time in sailing history?
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Bored of lounging on your superyacht in the Mediterranean? An increasing number of millionaires are now sailing their luxury vessels to the ends of the Earth, to get their kicks.
May 22, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
He's one of the great landscape artists, but JMW Turner also had a watery passion -- and his maritime travels are being retraced.