Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Wild Oats XI faced disqualification from the Sydney to Hobart as the fourtime line honours champion drew within sight of the finish line.
Race committee chairman Tim Cox said the supermaxi, as well as English yacht RAN, failed to have an operational HF radio as they passed Green Cape on Monday a compulsory reporting stage at the entrance to Bass Strait.
“The race committee met this morning and considered the position of those two yachts and we believed that we needed to lodge a protest on those boats with the international jury for not complying with the sailing instruction 44.1(A),” Cox said in Hobart on Tuesday.
“Both yachts reported their position throughout and since passing the cape by telephone . which does meet the requirement of 44.1.”
He said the fiveman jury would decide the fate of both yachts in Hobart on Wednesday afternoon.
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Garry Linacre said Wild Oats would be named a provisional line honours winner if, as expected, she arrived in Hobart late on Tuesday night.
He said sanctions ranged from minor time penalties to disqualification, without any avenue of appeal.
Cox said the rule was brought in after the disastrous 1998 race, in which six sailors died and just 44 yachts finished the race.
“From my point of view, passing Green Cape is one of the fundamental safety rules of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race,” he said.
“It’s one of the breaches which I personally consider to be one of the more serious ones. that’s also shared by the members of the race committee”
Cox said he told the yacht’s navigator Adrienne Cahalan not to attempt the voyage across Bass Strait.
“I spoke to Wild Oats prior to them getting to Green Cape and they advised that their HF radio did not work,” he said.
“I advised her that she could not cross Bass Strait.”
Sandy Oatley, the son of the yacht’s owner Bob, said he would talk to the yacht’s navigator Cahalan before deciding what to do.
“There’s still a race to run yet,” he said.
“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
In 2001, Bermudan yacht Tyco, which was across the finish line, was disqualified from the race for a similar breach it lodged its crew and condition report seven minutes late.
Meanwhile, Sydney yacht Victoire led in the race for handicap honours, with an adjusted lead of just four minutes ahead of South Australia’s Secret Men’s Business.