Sydney Hobart yacht race senior participant faces protests claiming breach of rules

Two protests have been lodged against one of the yachts battling for the overall victory in Sydney for the Hobart yacht race.

Ichi Ban and Celestial crossed the finish line within minutes of each other on Wednesday afternoon, with the Ichi ban flying a protest flag.

A few hours later, two formal protests were lodged against Celestial, one by the race committee and the other by Ichi Ban.

Both protests concern the rule that requires all yachts to be able to be contacted on VHF channel 16 during the race.

The race committee’s documentation said Celestial could not be contacted for 90 minutes after a false activation of its personal location beacon.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) said in a statement that contact was only successful after the flare was used.

“Despite several attempts to contact Celestial over a 90-minute period, via several ways, when the attention was eventually alerted via flares, which fortunately confirmed that the AMSA-warned PLB activation was false, AMSA should after 90 minutes implement a Melbourne-based SAR asset for the position as Celestial, “the statement said.

“Of particular concern was the lack of response to CH16 (VHF) from Celestial throughout the incident.”

CYCA said Celestial was expected to explain the incident “in its race declaration”.

Celestial, sailing on day one of the Sydney To Hobart 2018 race.
Celestial finished just behind Ichi Ban in the overall handicap standings this year.(Instagram: Official Rolex Sydney Hobart)

The protests will be heard before an international jury in Hobart this afternoon.

The last time there was a high-profile protest was in 2018, when second-place Black Jack protested against an honorable mention of Wild Oats XI

Black Jacks skipper Peter Harburg complained that the Wild Oats XI’s tracker was not always on, which was to the detriment of others.

The race for the overall victory and the coveted Tattersall Cup is still in play and most of the fleet has yet to reach Hobart.

The three supermaxis and a handful of other yachts sailed into Hobart in the early hours of Wednesday.

Monaco-flagged Black Jack took line honors in the slowest time since 2004, followed by New South Wales-based LawConnect and SHK Scallywag from Hong Kong.

A fleet of 88 yachts started the Bluewater Classic on Christmas Day, but the fleet was hit by strong seas and strong winds as it sailed down the coast of New South Wales the first night.

A total of 37 yachts retired, the highest number since 2015, when 25 of 84 starting yachts failed to reach the finish line.

Crew pump fists on a yacht at night.
Black Jack received line honors this year, but supermaxi was involved in a failed protest against Wild Oats XI in 2018.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

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