Volvo Ocean Race misconduct complaint dismissed

Published on December 7th, 2017

Cape Town, South Africa (December 7, 2017) – The International Jury has dismissed a charge of misconduct under Rule 69 of the Racing Rules of Sailing against David Witt and Steve Hayles (above, Witt on left) following a complaint to World Sailing.

The complaint, put forward by an outside party not associated with the race, focused on content contained in a video produced from on board Scallywag during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

In its decision, the International Jury wrote: “David Witt and Steve Hayles did not commit misconduct because the video has not caused widespread offence worldwide and has not brought the sport into disrepute.”

Richard Brisius, the President of the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “As race organisers we would like to thank the International Jury for its time and thoughtful handling of this case.”

The video, which was an attempt at humor, began with a content warning and then proceeded to discuss the issue of scrotum rash. Yesterday, the team announced that Hayles had stepped down as navigator for team. Witt explained, “Steve Hayles and I have been friends for 20 years and let me be clear: the reason he isn’t on the boat is because he had his character assassinated on social media.”

“I’ve seen the video and I think it’s unfortunate that this resulted in a hearing,” said Dee Caffari, the skipper of Turn the Tide on Plastic. “This case has shown all of us, I think, that the banter and jokes that are an essential part of life on board, don’t always travel well off the water. But to have singled out these guys for a charge when it’s clear that nobody on their boat felt offended in any way seems misguided to me.”

Jordi Neves, Chief Digital Officer of the Volvo Ocean Race added: “As event organisers we are constantly undertaking a review of our and the teams content workflow. We are providing updated guidelines to our communications team, including the on board reporters.

“Our focus now is to evolve and respond in a responsible manner, as we continue our authentic storytelling of the race as the sailors take on the ultimate test of a team in professional sport.”

The seven teams next take to the water on Friday December 8 at 2pm local time in Cape Town for the In-Port Race, before the start of Leg 3, from Cape Town to Melbourne, Australia on Sunday December 10.


Overall Results (after 2 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 14 points
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 13
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 11
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 7
5. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 6
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 5
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 2

Race detailsLive contentScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

The next In-Port Race is December 8 in Cape Town, South Africa with the third leg starting December 10 for the 6500 nm course to Melbourne, Australia. Leg 3 is expected to take 12 to 16 days to complete.

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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