Protest against Wild Oats XI threatens Sydney Hobart win
Published on December 28th, 2018
(December 28, 2018) – Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford stated the obvious when he proudly said, “The boat is getting closer,” after the super-maxi followed up its third place on line honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race last year with a second place this morning.
After a mighty four-way tussle, 14 minutes 25 seconds separated the first four line honours finishers – all of them super maxis – in which Wild Oats XI came out winner. But until 90 minutes before Wild Oats XI crossed the line at 8:07am, only four nautical miles separated them.
Wild Oats XI’s winning time for the 628 nautical mile race was one day 19 hours 7 minutes 21 seconds. Second across the line was Peter Harburg’s Black Jack in 1d 19h 35m 6s, followed by the Jim Cooney and Samantha Grant owned Comanche in 1d 19h 36m 9s and then InfoTrack, owned by Christian Beck, in 1d 19h 49m 31s.
It was a thrilling finale in which the only issue was the uncertainty that followed the concerns of Harburg that Wild Oats XI had its Automated Identification System (AIS) transponder off.
“We were very disadvantaged because they had their AIS switched off,” Harburg said. “And the rules say it’s got to be on all the time.”
Harburg said he would not formally protest, and by 3:50pm, no protest had been lodged. However, that didn’t stop the Race Committee from lodging a protest against Wild Oats XI.
The Race Committee received a report from Harburg advising that Wild Oats XI’s AIS had not transmitted throughout the course, and upon investigation, and based on its own evidence, the Race Committee considers there may have been a breach of S.I. 11.4 in respect of Special Regulation 4.09 (a):
The CYCA Commodore, Paul Billingham explained: “The Race Committee is independent of the organising authority of the race to ensure objectivity is maintained and seen to be maintained in circumstances such as this.”
The protest will be held in the Jury Room at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania on December 29 at 1300hrs.
This is the second year in a row with Wild Oats XI’s involvement in a protest. In 2018, an incident between Comanche and Wild Oats X, shortly after the start, earned the later a one hour penalty which shifted line honors and the race record to Comanche.
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Background: Eight-five yachts will be chasing line honours and the overall Tattersall Cup win in the 628nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which starts December 26, 2018. From Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.