Race Rules: Media Rights and Restrictions

Published on December 18th, 2015

Over the past 70 years, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has become an icon of Australia’s summer sport, ranking in public interest with such national events as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Australian Open tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England. Starting inside Sydney Harbor on December 26, the surrounding area is lined with spectators. It is an occasion.

Due to significant public interest, no regular annual yachting event in the world attracts such huge media coverage than does the start on Sydney Harbour, with regular reporting throughout the 628nm course to Hobart. As a result, the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions includes guidance in how competitors can – and cannot – fulfill this media interest.

Here’s an excerpt from the Sailing Instructions:

33.1 Conditions of entry

Any breach of the conditions in NoR 15 (MEDIA RIGHTS AND RESTRICTIONS), including of any permission granted under NoR 15, may be subject to a report under RRS 60.2(c) requesting action under RRS 69.1(a).

33.2 Skippers and crew members of boats may speak to, and provide material to, accredited members of any media prior to, during and after the race, regarding the race and the prospects, performance or strategy of boats entered or participating in the race, subject to:
• any comments and material supplied not undermining or interfering with, or having a detrimental impact on, the Organising Authority and its officers and employees, the Race Committee, the International Jury, Measurers or Rolex SA;
• no reference shall be made during such a commentary to boats in distress, urgency or emergency or wreckage sightings;
• all information given shall be accurate (i.e. no deliberately false sightings or positions may be reported);
• the skipper of the boat from which a commentary is broadcast shall be responsible for the detail and retain the text of the broadcast, and the boat may be protested should it be considered that the terms of this rule have been breached.
• the Organising Authority receiving from the accredited media concerned an undertaking on terms satisfactory to the Organising Authority;
• copies of that material (such as video or film tapes of any interviews and video footage obtained on (whether or not transmitted from) boats) being provided to the Organising Authority together with a perpetual licence to use and exhibit the material for any purpose, by 7 January 2016, unless otherwise agreed by the Organising Authority.

33.3 The approval in this SI 33.2 may be revoked by the Race Committee at any time with respect to any boat or any accredited media.

33.4 A boat is not permitted to request, and a boat working private schedules with other stations is prohibited from passing information in relation to, weather conditions or information in relation to the race or other competitors, except where requested by (radio relay vessel) “JBW”, or except as detailed in SI 37.5. No restriction is placed on the receiving of weather information broadcast by Government or commercial stations nor compliance with SI Appendix 1.

33.5 The International Jury may impose a penalty at their discretion, depending upon their judgment of the seriousness of the infringement, should they find that SI 33 has been breached.

33.6 Additional persons

With the prior approval of the Race Committee, a boat may carry additional persons on board from the Preparatory Signal until three hours after the Starting Signal, for media purposes. Such person shall not participate in the sailing of the boat. Such action will not form the basis of a protest or constitute grounds for redress (amends RRS 47.2 and 62.1).

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Background: The 71st edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race starts December 26 in Sydney Harbor, taking an entry list of 111 boats along the 628 nautical mile course to Hobart that is often described as the most grueling long ocean race in the world.


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