Wild Oats XI on its way to a special victory. Picture: AFP
Wild Oats XI on its way to a special victory. Picture: AFP

Major relief as Wild Oats protest deemed invalid

A PROTEST against the record-breaking supermaxi Wild Oats XI has been found to be invalid, leaving the 100-footer's ninth line honours win standing.

It was a major relief for Mark Richards and his team, who held off three supermaxi rivals in was labelled one of the best Sydney to Hobart races ever.

The protest was heard by the five-man international jury that presides over the ocean race.

The team can return to celebrations put on hold when the race committee protested against them late on Friday night.

The supermaxi's victory was put under a cloud when the event's regulatory body decided to investigate why Wild Oats XI failed to have its Automatic Identification System operational in the race.

Wild Oats XI reaches Tasmania. Picture: AP
Wild Oats XI reaches Tasmania. Picture: AP

The sailing instructions for the Sydney to Hobart state: "An AIS transponder shall be carried and be switched on, such that it is receiving and transmitting."

Just minutes after her arrival in Hobart on Friday in second place, Black Jack owner Peter Harburg made public his concerns this had not been the case on Wild Oats XI and said it was unfair to others yachts in the race that did not have access to her information.

"The rules say every boat must have the AIS on,'' Harburg said after Black Jack finished second to Wild Oats XI by about 28 minutes.

"The AIS means there are no secrets. We know where everyone is, they know what speed we are doing, what direction we are going.''

Harburg said he believed his racer and others were disadvantaged by not having the information on Wild Oats XI while racing.

Harburg said he would not protest, but called on the race committee to investigate.

At 10pm on Friday, the race committee said it would be protesting against Wild Oats XI.

"The race committee received a report from the owner of Black Jack advising that Wild Oats XI's AIS had not transmitted throughout the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2018,'' a statement read.

"On investigation, and based on its own evidence, the race committee considers there may have been a breach of S.I. 11.4 in respect of special regulation 4.09 (a).''

An AIS improves navigational safety and communication.

The tracking system provides speed, distance and course travelled information.

News Corp Australia


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