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what’s wrong with this picture?

The mistake is not easy to spot. All seems well in this unremarkable image of offshore sailing: Celestial charging South with all guns blazing on the first day of the recent Sydney-Hobart race (which she went on to win in the overall IRC category). Photo: ROLEX/Francolini.

Celestial also won on ORCi by a margin of 44 minutes on corrected time. But now, days after owner Sam Haynes accepted the trophy at the Hobart presentation ceremony, he has “retired” the TP52 from the ORC division. In other words, he’s withdrawn his yacht and relinquished first place.

Why? Well, the reason is obvious only to those with a detailed knowledge of the ORC rules. Here’s the restriction that Haynes and his crew breached:  

208 Headsails 

208.1 Headsails may be set on the forestay or set flying. 

208.2 Headsails set flying may be tacked: 

  1. a) in front of the forestay, where 
  2. i) it shall be tacked approximately on the boat’s centerline 
  3. ii) it shall not be used when any spinnaker is set 

As the photo shows, Celestial set a flying jib while also setting a spinnaker at the same time – a configuration that’s clearly forbidden by 208.2 a) ii).

As ‘whoopsies’ go this is highly embarrassing, especially as Haynes is Vice-Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the organisers of the Sydney-Hobart race.  

The new winner in the ORCi division is now another TP52, Gweilo.

 – anarchist David