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Wild Oats XI awaits Syd-Hob protest ruling

18 January, 2018, 14:25 | Author: John Swanson
  • Sailing: Comanche and Wild Oats set up record-breaking Sydney to Hobart finish

With Comanche finishing just 26min and 34sec behind Wild Oats, a possible punishment such as a time penalty could determine which yacht is crowned the victor.

An global jury will hear the protest in Hobart on Thursday.

Richards denied the situation had been risky, but added that he could "see the jury's point of view".

Wild Oats XI came from behind to beat LDV Comanche in a dramatic River Derwent climax.

Wild Oats XI had crossed the finish line in record time last night - and 26 minutes ahead of Comanche - but was penalised one hour at the hearing today.

Wild Oats XI, however, faces a potential penalty with LDV Comanche owner and skipper Jim Cooney confirming after the race he planned to lodge a formal protest. If the protest is upheld his crew will be hit with a time penalty of at least five minutes.

"Everyone is a genius in hindsight".

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After failing to conclude her last two tilts towards Hobart it was a magnificent tactical effort from Richards and the crew aboard Oats, who had to clamber this morning to fix a ripped sail to get her back into contention for the tilt at yet more bluewater glory.

"It's a surprise, a very pleasant surprise to be standing here".

But if Wild Oats finishes ahead of Comanche, a formal protest could play a crucial role in determining the victor.

The four 100-footer supermaxis, led by LDV Comanche, were benefiting from a strong north-easterly wind in the Bass Strait early December 27.

Earlier Mark Richards said he was unconcerned about the protest. "The jury decided very clearly that there was an infringement in the harbor that penalized us".

Six yachts including the supermaxis are on track to beat the Sydney to Hobart record, powered by favorable winds in what organizers described December 27 as an "astonishingly fast race".

"Getting these boats out of the harbour in one piece is a big deal", he said. "I am not concerned about that at all".

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"Decision is penalised by one hour".

Jazz Player, Wots Next and Rockall were forced to retire, while Opt2go Scamp is repairing rotor damage at Eden and hopes to finish.

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

An global jury convened on Thursday heard evidence from both crews before finding in favour of Comanche, saying Wild Oats had "failed to keep clear (of Comanche) while tacking".

Fuelled by a strong north-easterly, the yacht chipped away at LDV Comanche's overnight 20 nautical mile advantage and caught up to the point where the pair were neck-and-neck down Tasmania's east coast.

There, it picked up a breeze to crawl into first place as her rival slowed to a near halt.

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.

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