Having traversed the Sydney to Hobart race course in record time, Wild Oats XI had her line honours victory and race record taken away from her after an International Jury applied an penalty as she ‘failed to keep clear’ shortly after the start.
LDV Comanche has now been awarded line honours PLUS the race record.
International Jury Chairman, John Rountree said: “Wild Oats XI on port had to keep clear of LDV Comanche under Rule 10. Wild Oats XI failed to keep clear while tacking – Rule 13. LDV Comanche luffed to avoid a collision – Rule 14. Wild Oats XI did not comply with Sailing Instruction (S.I.) 20.1a to do a two-turn penalty for breaking the rule of part 2 occurring prior to clearing mark Zulu. The decision is in lieu of disqualification, penalised a time penalty of one hour to be added to her elapsed time in accordance with Sailing Instruction 20.1b and SI 22.1.”
Like Wild Oats XI, LDV Comanche finished inside last year’s record time, so the new record is one day 9 hours 15 minutes 24 seconds. She finished 26 minutes behind Wild Oats XI, but the latter’s one hour penalty means Comanche takes line honours by 34 minutes from Wild Oats XI.
After the hearing, Jim Cooney said: “I think it’s entirely fair and reasonable that the jury acted as they did. When you’re dealing with boats of this size and this calibre, we are at the elite level of our sport, and the boats have to be conducted responsibly in fair respect of the conditions and the impact that your manoeuvres might have.
“I felt very strongly that wasn’t the case,” Cooney said. “The rules are there to protect the people and the boats and if we can’t rely on that it’s a difficulty in the sport.”
Cooney said the way they won the race has not taken any gloss off the sport. “The race is about how you conduct yourself and how your crew performs and how the boat performs. We feel we sail to the best of our abilities and (to win) justified our boat’s performance and the crew’s preparation.”
Wild Oats XI’s skipper, Mark Richards and Sandy Oatley representing the Oatley family, were gracious in defeat.
Richards said, “Obviously we’re very disappointed, but the international jury had a job to do. They saw the incident the way they saw it, we saw it a little bit differently, but the result is the result and we have to respect the decision of the jury.”
Sandy Oatley added: “We’d just like to congratulate Jim Cooney and his crew for their success, and move forward.”