HOBART HOPES: Wild Thing in action during the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour. Buddina’s Dave Turton will be on board as navigator for Thursday’s big race.
HOBART HOPES: Wild Thing in action during the SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour. Buddina’s Dave Turton will be on board as navigator for Thursday’s big race. DEAN LEWINS AAP

Turton returns for his first Sydney to Hobart in 20 years

BUDDINA'S Dave Turton will return to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race for the first time in 20 years intent on directing super maxi Wild Thing to victory.

As navigator, Turton has been charged with one of the toughest jobs in the sport. When the race gets underway on Boxing Day, the 44-year-old will need to be one step ahead of the weather, and everyone else.

"You're virtually doing your own forecasting and localising it and trying to position the boat in the best tactical advantage," he said.

"It's like a game of chess, you're always setting yourself up for the next move."

That's not easy in the cut and thrust of a yacht race.

"We don't have radar on our boat but we do have internet access and access the data by the sat phone when we haven't got coverage, and of course over radio," he said.

"But certainly not to the level of detail you get sitting down at your desk."

Turton will compete in his fifth Classic but it will be his first in two decades.

"The first few I did, we were a bit unlucky so I decided to give it a rest for a while," he said of previous forays on smaller vessels.

"(But) I love my sailing, I love my racing and when the opportunity came up to do this one, I thought 'let's do it', plus I've been doing a lot more navigating over the last few years."

Turton linked with Wild Thing in July and helped the Grant Wharington-skippered vessel win line honours in the Sydney to Gold Coast and Brisbane to Gladstone races.

But the yacht, which won line honours in 2003 and was controversially barred from last year's race on a technicality at the last minute, will be tested by more fancied boats Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal and Ragamuffin 100 when the start gun goes on Thursday.

"They're four or five metres taller so get a bit more sail area," Turton said.

"We've certainly got what we think is an edge in one weather condition but on average the others are a little quicker."

A light downwind, which was the most recent forecast, would provide the 100-footer and its crew of 15 with their best opportunity to claim any sort of victory, particularly on handicap.

"The handicap race (Tattersall's Cup) is the big trophy of the race," Turton said.

"It's the main focus - but line honours would certainly be nice."



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