The protest hearing to decide the final fleet positions on Leg 1 of the Global Challenge took place yesterday

The long awaited protest hearing to decide the final fleet positions, after an incredibly competitive 1st leg in the Global Challenge, took place yesterday in Yacht Club Argentino, Buenos Aires.

The independent International Jury, appointed by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), was flown in to Buenos Aires to hear all protests, which had to have been lodged with the Race Committee no later than 24 hours after the last yacht arrived.

At the end of each leg the jury is on standby, and should a protest hearing be necessary, they are flown in to adjudicate and resolve the matter as a wholly independent body. There are five judges, and three different nationalities must be represented.

The matter of protests is not taken lightly – with the overall title of winner of the Global Challenge at stake, any decision regarding the results from each leg is treated with the utmost seriousness.

The protests

In all there were four protests to be heard:


Incident:Ushant Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) as boats passed through the area

Protestor – Global Challenge Race Committee

Protested – Barclays Adventurer, BP Explorer, Pindar, Team Stelmar, Team SAIC La Jolla, BG SPIRIT, Team Save the Children


Incident: Finisterre Traffic Separation Scheme as boats passed through the area

Protestor – Global Challenge Race Committee

Protested – Spirit of Sark, BP Explorer, Team Stelmar


Incident: Race Rule Violation RRS 50.2

Protestor – Global Challenge Race Committee

Protested – Spirit of Sark – Sail No 38

[The International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) Racing Rules for Sailing (RRS) 50.2 states:

‘Only one spinnaker pole or whisker pole shall be used at a time except when gybing. When in use, it shall be attached to the foremost mast.’


Incident: Request for Redress

Protestor – VAIO – Sail No. 47

Protested – Global Challenge Race Committee

Protest round-up

Race organisers, Challenge Business today confirmed the International Jury’s decisions.

All seven yachts involved in Protest 1 were exonerated from fault when the protest was deemed invalid, and all three yachts involved in Protest 2 – a separate incident – were found to be at fault.

In their official findings in the case of Protest 1, the jury found that “the race committee acted on the report of a competitor and this invalidates the protest according to RRS 60.2(a)”

The description of the offence brought against the teams by the Race Committee in Protest 2 was the same as Protest 1:

“The Global Challenge fleet are fitted with Sat C systems. On plotting the tracks of the boats through the Traffic Separation Scheme it appeared that the boats listed were in violation of Rule 10 of IRPCAS and Sailing Instruction L1.12 Traffic Separation Schemes. Nothing in the Sailing Instructions relieves a boat of her responsibility under civil law to comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at sea.”

However, the jury found a crucial difference between the two when deliberating over Protest 2:

“The International Jury is satisfied that the Race Committee would have protested these boats regardless of advice received from any competitor. Therefore RRS 60.2 (a) does not apply.”

There is a feeling among the teams penalised in Protest 2 that the other five crews involved in Protest 1 got away rather lightly considering the offence heard in both cases was essentially the same.

It may be understandably hard for the penalised teams to swallow. However, they were found to have been “sailing in a lane against the flow of traffic” and “all three boats sailed through the separation zone without any emergency reason”, according to the jury’s findings. Although they went on to state that no “significant advantage was gained by any of the three boats”, an infringement was made and without the intervention of Rule 60.2(a), one-point penalties were the order of the day for all three teams.

Protest 2 was upheld and a one-point penalty issued to each of the teams involved: Spirit of Sark, BP Explorer and Team Stelmar.

Protest 3 was also upheld and a 30-minute time penalty awarded to Spirit of Sark because they were “sailing downwind,” according to the jury’s findings, “using two spinnaker poles at the same time for a period in excess of four hours. The effect of this was to stabilise the boat. As soon as they realised their mistake they informed the Race Committee according to General Sailing Instruction 20.

“By stabilising the boat an advantage was gained. Rule RRS 50.2 was infringed. By informing the Race Committee the Protestee complied with RRS 2.”

Protest 4, lodged by VAIO concerning a technicality relating to the weather information available to each yacht, was withdrawn before being heard.

As the teams involved in Protest 2 incurred a one-point penalty, their leader board position will also move down one place. However, teams not awarded a penalty will remain in their present position, resulting in two teams sharing the same spot in each case.

The 30 minute time penalty given to Spirit of Sark has no effect on the leader board, but the points penalties could have implications later in the race as it has already been proved how competitive the race can become with yachts finishing within minutes of one another after 6,200nm of racing.

Skipper of penalised Team Stelmar, Clive Cosby, spoke about the decision immediately after the hearing:

“I’d quote one of the other skippers but I can’t say that! It was reasonably intimidating and it makes you feel guilty, but you have to remember that while it’s not their job, [the jurors] it’s something they do professionally and they’re far more experienced and have the upper hand compared to us [the teams] so you have to be well and truly prepared and know what you’re talking about as they will find any holes in your argument.”

Clive went on to describe their reaction to the one-point penalty imposed:

“We have to accept it, it’s the International Jury’s decision and we’d prefer not to lose the point, but I think considering the way the judgement has gone, and it’s very much a test case, we’ve been made to pay for it. However, in terms of actually receiving the penalty, it’s the least harsh so it’s not a shocking result.”

While the protest hearing does clearly show the Race Committee’s intent to uphold the race rules, incidents concerning the passage through Traffic Separation Schemes have already been heard in other round the world yacht races, and protests lodged as a result, so this is not the first time a case such as this has been heard.

“Some yachts will claim they sailed round the traffic separation schemes,” continued Clive, “and others will say that it was luck rather than judgement as the race took us straight through two traffic separation schemes and three out of the eight yachts that went through them got penalised, and the other five got away scot free on a technicality – that’s just the way it goes really.”

Following the outcome of the protest hearing, David Melville, skipper of BP Explorer, was not as satisfied with the findings but has decided not to pursue the matter any further. In a statement he issued to the website he said:

“From the skipper’s and crew’s perspective onboard the yacht, it is felt that the Jury made a very harsh interpretation of the rules. Yachts transit the English Channel on a daily basis, crossing the TSS at right angles, alternative routes are often available, but because they are not convenient, it is accepted practice to cross the shipping lanes.

“The infringement of the rules revolved around whether the shortest course on a racecourse, even though it crossed at right angles, merited being “obliged” to cross the TSS.

“The International Jury interpreted the term “obliged” in one manner and the skipper and crew of BP Explorer in an alternative manner. Unfortunately for the boat, the Jury has the final say.”

The final leader board and points awarded to each team at the end of Leg 1 is as follows:

1st Barclays Adventurer 15 points

2nd VAIO 14 points

3rd Samsung 13 points

4th 5th BG SPIRIT 11 points

5th BP Explorer 11 points

6th 7th SAIC La Jolla 9 points

7th Spirit of Sark 9 points

8th 9th Imagine It. Done. 7 points

9th Team Stelmar 7 points

10th Me to You 6 points

11th Pindar 5 points

12th Team Save the Children 4 points