Skandia crosses the line of Rolex Sydney Hobart race after troubled final day

The rebuilt Melbourne maxi Skandia crossed the finish line at 1446 this afternoon, and had to be towed into her berth at Constitution Dock. For the second time in the race her engine had failed her.

The big canting keel maxis, with their electric winches and hydraulic keel rams rely on power from their engines to drive all the systems, sailing with the engine running most of the way. In particular the engines drive the hydraulics that swing the keel from one side of the boat to the other during a tack. So when Skandia’s engine failed around lunchtime Tuesday off Flinders Island skipper Grant Wharrington had real problems. “We have the option of moving the keel from one side to the other with a small electric motor but it takes about eight minutes, whereas the engine takes 30 seconds,” he explained at the dock. “We think we turned the engine off at one stage and it gulped water back in through the exhaust.”

Whatever the cause, the yachts mechanics took two and a half hours to pull the engine apart, get all the water out and put it back together again, and all the while Skandia headed towards Flinders Island, unable to gybe, while everybody else was heading offshore taking advantage of a wind change. “It probably cost us 20 miles or so,” Wharrington said.

Around midnight the same engine problems returned. This time, after stripping the motor down they found water in the engine oil. That was the end of it. The keel was centred for the long bash into a 40 knot westerly across Storm Bay.

Wharrington said he was particularly delighted with Skandia’s performance on the first day of the race, when she sailed stuck to Wild Oats XI and Alfa Romeo. “I think they would have been pretty surprised at how we were going,” he said. “We just knew we would be okay if the wind was up but the next morning it shifted left and the spinnakers went up and they were always going to absolutely hammer us after that.”