Protest by the race committee is dropped amid fleet controversy


The Mini Transat set off from Madeira this weekend on the second and major leg across the Atlantic to Brazil amid a controversy that has caused upset in this otherwise harmonious fleet.

As I reported from the start in La Rochelle , over a third of the fleet mistakenly rounded the wrong turning mark before heading out to sea. Most realised their mistake and returned to beat back to the correct mark a mile or so further upwind, but some did not.

Those who didn’t were in due course protested by the race committee and should have been subject to a whopping 24-hour penalty. In such a close run fleet, this is more than enough to affect the outcome of the entire race.

But in Madeira last week it was announced that the race committee had dropped the protest, claiming that it had been filed – no, let’s get this right, they had filed it – too late.

The general feeling is that the committee is wriggling hard to get themselves out of a tricky situation, brought about in part by the placement of the turning mark in line with another of a similar shape and colour. Some speculate that the threat of counter-protest prompted the committee’s useful bureaucratic bungle.

Whatever the case, many skippers feel the whole thing has a fishy smell about it, and have started leg two with a sense that all those who followed the letter of the rules have been unfairly penalised.

Photo courtesy of Thierry Martinez.