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December 29, 2017

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Wild Oats XI stripped of win as Comanche protest upheld

Super maxi LDV Comanche was awarded line honors in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race yesterday after its protest against Wild Oats XI was upheld over an incident early in the race.

Wild Oats XI was found to have breached race rules over a tacking move at the start on Tuesday in Sydney Harbour. The eight-time winner was penalized one hour after lengthy deliberations by a five-person international jury in Hobart.

It was only the third time in the event’s 73-race history that a yacht lost line honors due to a penalty.

In 1990, Rothmans received a time penalty for breaching advertising rules. In 1983, Nirvana failed to give Condor sufficient sea room; Nirvana crossed the line first but was disqualified and Condor was declared the winner.

Wild Oats XI had crossed the finish line in record-breaking time but was only 26 minutes, 34 seconds ahead of LDV Comanche.

Mark Richards, the skipper aboard Wild Oats XI, said he and the yacht’s crew accepted the jury’s findings and penalty. “Not very often do you smash a Sydney to Hobart record and then get it taken away from you, but it’s happened to us today,” he said. “We’re very disappointed but we have to cop it on the chin.”

LDV Comanche skipper and owner Jim Cooney described the decision as “fair”.

The jury canvassed several witnesses and reviewed television footage before making its decision.

The allegation lodged with the jury was that Wild Oats XI was on a port tack, and Comanche was on a starboard tack, putting them on a collision course at the start of the race.

It alleged that Wild Oats did not complete its tack from port to starboard, failing to keep clear of Comanche.

Wild Oats XI had crossed the finish line in 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 50 seconds after finishing the 630-nautical mile (1,170-kilometer) grueling race. The previous race record was 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes, 20 seconds.

The revised times show Comanche’s winning time as 1 day, 9 hours, 15 minutes, 24 seconds, still inside the previous record by over 4 hours. Wild Oats XI’s revised time with the penalty added was 33 minutes behind.


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