saved by the bell

What’s really lame is that the owner of Black Jack did nothing but bitch, but didn’t file a protest? STFU.

Wild Oats XI has retained its Sydney to Hobart line honours standing after a post-race protest against it was deemed invalid. The owner/skipper of runner-up Black Jack Peter Harburg claimed Wild Oats XI’s automatic identification system (AIS) was not transmittingthroughout the whole race and that it disadvantaged the crews of Black Jack and third placed Comanche.

The Sydney to Hobart race committee subsequently lodged a protest against Wild Oats XI.

But a five-member international jury ruled the protest was invalid because it needed to have been lodged by a competitor. The crew of Wild Oats XI celebrated a stunning win on Friday, crossing the line in a time of 19 hours, 7 minutes and 21 seconds in one of the closest contests in the race’s history.

Mr Harburg reported Wild Oats XI’s automatic identification system (AIS) was not transmitting throughout the race. He claimed the lapse disadvantaged the crews aboard Black Jack and third-placed Comanche because they could not see where Wild Oats XI was at all times.

While not technically a racing tool, the AIS was introduced as a mandatory requirement this year to improve safety, and race organisers said the requirement to have it on was communicated in race briefings.

Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards claimed the AIS system was flawed while the boat’s engineer Cameron Baillie said he believed their AIS was on throughout the race. “We were receiving the whole time, our device was telling us it was transmitting, so how else are you meant to know it’s not transmitting, unless someone tells you?” said Richards.

Before the hearing, CYCA Commodore Paul Billingham said there was no obligation for the jury to impose a penalty.

Here is the text of the Jury finding:

Following a protest against Wild Oats XI by the Race Committee of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, which was held by the International Jury at Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania today, it was found that the protest was invalid and so Wild Oats XI retains her line honours crown.


1. The Race Committee’s investigation and subsequent protest arose from the report from the owner of Black Jack, a competitor in the Race and therefore a person with a conflict of interest within the meaning of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS).

2. The Race Committee’s investigation was prudent, however in these circumstances, for the protest to be valid under the Racing Rules of Sailing, a competitor with information about a potential rule breach must lodge the protest.

Rules that apply: RRS60.2 (a), Definitions – Conflict of Interest.

Decision:  Protest Invalid.