Ichi Ban has won overall handicap honors in Sydney to Hobart for a record-breaking third time after an international jury approved two protests against a rival yacht for being unreachable via radio for 90 minutes.
The Tattersall Cup was only decided early Friday morning after a four-hour marathon hearing, after which Celestial was penalized 40 minutes for the accident, just before midnight on December 27, when a personal location guy on one of the crew members was accidentally activated.
It prompted the Australian Maritime Safety Agency Search and Rescue to notify the race committee, which could not immediately contact the crew, and even sparked discussions about whether to launch a search and rescue aircraft from Essendon Airport.
The race committee also asked for Ichi Ban’s help to ensure that all sailors were safe on Celestial.
Ichi Ban, the closest boat in the fleet to Celestial at the time of the incident, about seven to 10 nautical miles in operation, was also unable to contact its rival through repeated VHF calls.
It prompted the race committee to ask Ichi Ban to release a handheld white flare to attract the attention of Celestial’s crew, who received no response, and shortly after a red parachute.
About 10 minutes later, Celestial contacted Ichi Ban using the navigator’s handheld radio on deck. It confirmed that all crew were safe and that the beacon activation was accidental.
But both Ichi Ban and the race committee filed protests over the incident, which had the race committee and AMSA in regular discussions about emergency measures.