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9 December 2004, 09:31 am
Star Studded Line Up
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Canon Big Boat Challenge
Sydney, Australia

Tomorrow's Canon Big Boat Challenge has attracted a bevy of celebrities and a star studded fleet of 21 yachts ranging in size from super maxis to pocket maxis for the annual sailing spectacle on Sydney Harbour.

Athens Olympic butterfly finalist Geoff HUEGILL will join the stars of the sailing world including America's Cup sailors Iain MURRAY, Mark RICHARDS and Michael COXON and well-known businessmen Bob OATLEY, Denis O'NEIL, Colin O'NEIL and Stephen DAVID, for the 14 nautical mile dash around Sydney Harbour on Friday 10 December.

Australia's entrant in the 2000 Miss World contest, Olivia STRATTON, will join the crew aboard the Volvo 60 Nokia (Steffan JACOB), one of three Volvo 60s competing, while the Assistant Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service, Keith A. HARRAP AFSM, will also be part of the event as a guest on board one of Canon's corporate vessels.

The line up of yachts is as impressive as the line up of guests and crew including last year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours winner Skandia, owned by Melbourne property developer Grant WHARINGTON, second over the line Konica Minolta (Stewart THWAITES) from New Zealand sailing with Geoff HUEGILL aboard, and third over the line AAPT.

Sean LANGMAN's radical 66-footer AAPT attracted a barrage of publicity this week after skipper Sean LANGMAN announced he will carry a radical new 'parachute' spinnaker during this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

George SNOW's Brindabella, a five line honours winner in this event and a participant in every Canon Big Boat Challenge since its inception 11 years ago, will again be on the start line with Bob OATLEY's brand new state-of-the-art Reichel/Pugh 66 Wild Oats, and his former yacht, which this week has changed its name to Targé in line with a new sponsorship with the retail giant.

Formerly Wild Joe, the 60 footer which was the first yacht to be built in Australia with a canting keel, will sport its sponsor's livery on Friday, which is luckily in keeping with the crew's existing crew uniform that includes red sailing shoes.

Targé, which has lured Iain MURRAY as helmsman for the event, is also sailing in this year's Canon Big Boat Challenge and Rolex Sydney Hobart Race to raise money for Target's Sunsmart charity for kids with cancer.

Grant WHARINGTON's 98-foot super maxi Skandia will be joined on the start line by two of his former yachts; Martingale, which was the green-hulled Wild Thing and which is now owned by David DICKER, and the Inglis 50 UBS Wild Thing, owned by CYCA Rear Commodore Geoff LAVIS.

CYCA Commodore Martin JAMES' newly named Farr 65 Maserati (formerly Infinity III) will be part of the 21-strong fleet on Friday, as will the former America's Cup yacht FT Spirit which recently made headlines when it dropped its 20 tonne bulb from its keel and ended up floating on its side alongside the Sydney Opera House.

Amongst the smaller IRC high rating grand prix racers competing will be Matt ALLEN's Farr 52 Ichi Ban and Denis O'NEIL's sleek black-hulled Atomic , with Michael COXON from North Sails as helmsman. David PESCUD's KAZ, sailing with a largely disabled crew, will also join the fleet.

Well-known Sydney pocket maxi Broomstick, owned by CYCA Director Michael CRANITCH, has reluctantly had to withdraw from this Friday's Canon Big Boat Challenge while the crew concentrates on completing major modifications in time for the Boxing Day start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

The 11th Canon Big Boat Challenge will start at 12.30pm (local time) off Nielsen Park when Canon's managing director Mr Shuichi Tsukahara fires the 19 th Century replica cannon.

Peter Campbell
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