It was the decision that most sailors had been expecting, but it has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Mark Richards and his crew on Wild Oats XI.
After crossing the finish line first in the 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the eight-times line honours winner was penalised one hour for a port-starboard incident between the second and third turning marks at the start of the race. The international jury took three hours to make the decision that has stripped Wild Oats of both the line honours trophy and the race record.
Finishing 26 minutes and 34 seconds behind Wild Oats, Jim Cooney's LDV Comanche was elevated to first place in the line honours competition.
After finishing in Hobart, Richards declared that Wild Oats had performed a perfect lee bow on Comanche in the incident and therefore they had decided not to do penalty turns that would have cancelled the penalty.
However TV footage of the incident clearly showed that Jimmy Spithill, at the helm of Comanche, had been forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision and therefore Wild Oats was at fault.
While the incident will reinforce some bad blood between the two boats, it is a timely reminder to sailors everywhere that the starboard boat has complete right of way and the port boat must keep clear.
– Roger McMillan, editor.