SydHob handicap protests back before jury

Ethan James |

An international jury is considering a request from Celestial to re-examine the protests which cost the yacht overall honours in the Sydney to Hobart race.  

Ichi Ban was on Friday presented with the Tattersall Cup after rival Celestial copped a 40-minute penalty for breaching race rules, relegating it to second in the overall standings.

The jury will meet at 11.30am on Saturday at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Hobart to consider reopening the protests lodged against the yacht by Ichi Ban and the race committee.

After a lengthy hearing, the jury ruled on Friday that Celestial had breached race rules which stipulate competitors must keep a continuous watch for radio contact.

It found a personal locator beacon on Celestial was accidentally set off on Monday night in Bass Strait, which prompted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to alert the race committee.

When the committee was unable to reach Celestial, they asked nearby Ichi Ban to make radio contact.

When there was no response, Ichi Ban set off flares which caught the attention of Celestial.

It was confirmed the beacon had been activated accidentally and AMSA was told to stand down search and rescue aircraft.

The jury ruled deploying two flares temporarily affected Ichi Ban’s performance.

Celestial skipper Sam Haynes described the decision as “very, very difficult to swallow”.

Ichi Ban arrived in Hobart with its red protest flag raised but skipper Matt Allen didn’t initially indicate whether one would be lodged.

“We’d always prefer to win on the water, there’s no doubt about that. But obviously the race committee protested the same protest,” Allen said on Friday.

“It is what it is. Sailing has many rules attached to it and they’re important to abide by, especially the ones related to safety.”

Ichi Ban became the first yacht to win back-to-back overall honours in more than 50 years, joining Freya (1963-65) and Love & War (1974, 1978 and 2006) as the only triple winners.

The fleet’s last boat, Solveig, arrived in Hobart at 8.40am (AEDT) on New Year’s Day after spending more than five days at sea.