Re: why so long?
Make the tiller the length you like, buy/make an adjustable tiller extension and you can steer from nearly anywhere in the cockpit. This boat is not really one where wheel steering is going to make life any easier, IMO.
Much better things to spend your money and efforts on than wheel steering at this point.
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)