Australian VOR entry in to the end, but out of next leg. Matthew Sheahan reports 25/1/06

In confirming that Brunel’s additional sponsorship funds would take the team to the end of the race, skipper Grant Wharington also announced that the boat will be shipped to Baltimore, missing the next three legs, an in-port race and another scoring gate.

“We will do the in port race and then modify the boat to update it to where we would like it to be and to make it a serious threat to the leaders in this race,” said Wharington at a press conference in Melbourne.

“We believe that these boats are capable of doing 600 miles in 24 hours and we want to be the boat that achieves this first. We believe the boat can do it and will leave no stone unturned in improving the performance of the boat and getting it to where we’d like it to be.”

A strange strategy for an around the world campaign, yet Wharington was clear about the reasons why he had taken this step.

“We don’t want to be an also ran, we want to continue in the race as a serious threat. We’d rather miss a leg or two and have a top performance towards the end of the race, than be a number for the rest of the race.”

Although the Australian team were the last finishers in Melbourne, the breakdowns on the two legs so far keeps them in contention. Continuing the race and completing every leg would surely see them finish in a respectable position. Had the decision to pull out of the next three legs been a difficult one?

“It was a difficult decision to make,” he said. “I had reckoned that if you finished every leg of the race then you could finish with a podium finish overall. But I want to win a leg.”

Wharington went on to say that although precise plans for the shipping hadn’t been finalised, it was his hope that Wallenius Lines would be able to ship the boat.

So, while Wharington’s campaign sits out the next leg, his situation ensures that Wallenius look likely to participate once again, this time in the third leg of the Volvo. An unconventional entry perhaps, but one that is also unlikely to measure.