The International Jury, chaired by Bryan Willis from the UK upheld the protest by the Race Committee against illbruck Challenge, finding that:
- The weed cutting device attached to the leading edge of the S-Drive does constitute a modification
- The issue of a measurement certificate does not constitute explicit permission for the modification
- The boat illbruck was not compliant with the class rules for leg one
illbruck Challenge was fined ‘1,000 for the infringement. No points were docked.
The Race Committee did not believe a place penalty was appropriate. Race Director Michael Woods pointed out that V.O60 rule interpretation number 53 states that a separate weed cutter would not be contrary to the rules, although an integral weed cutter is clearly a modification. Additionally, the device as installed on illbruck was likely, if anything, to create more drag. While illbruck was in contravention of the rule, an oversight by a measurer did occur.
illbruck also noted that the device would increase drag and called the issue an administrative oversight and maintained that it should not result in a points penalty.
Jury Chairman Bryan Willis allowed submissions from interested parties (the other teams) as the penalty ruling would possibly affect them.
Assa Abloy pointed out that with 51 measurement interpretations issued leading up to the race start, the process where a boat asks for a measurement interpretation was well established, and illbruck would hardly have made an oversight in neglecting to ask. Assa Abloy pointed out that when an interpretation is sought, it becomes public knowledge and all the other boats can then decide whether to make the same modification. By not asking, illbruck could have gained an advantage because none of the other boats would know what they were modifying.
Team News Corp and dJuice dragons both pointed out that by having a weed cutting device on the S-Drive, illbruck gained considerable advantage by not having to slow or stop to clear weed from the S-Drive. Team News Corp estimated this would have cost between 25 and 30 miles on the leg and pointed out that could be greatly amplified when one takes into account hooking into a favourable weather system.
No other teams were present.
Commenting on the day of protests, illbruck Challenge CEO Glenn Bourke said: ‘The first protest for us was always very questionable. We didn’t understand what Assa Abloy were getting at and I think in retrospect now, they didn’t realise how simple it was to track through the Internet to find that website that we had nominated. The hearing went on for three hours, looking at all the nuances and the technical side of the protest but when we showed them [the jury and Assa Abloy representatives] how easy it was to find the site through the nominated websites, they withdrew the protest. They understood that it was really frivolous and they didn’t want to continue wasting any more time with it.
‘The boat who wins the leg is always the focus and really, from our perspective it’s good to have ourselves cleared and to know exactly what the direction is for the future. It is good for all of us, and that is why the jury chose to have an open forum (for the first protest) like they did today. It is educational for everyone and we go into the next leg with a deepened level of knowledge and we are less likely to make a similar type of mistake.’
On the second protest regarding the modification to the stern drive Bourke said: ‘We have been penalised ‘1,000 for infringing V.O.60 class rule 5.4.2 and we believe the case is over and we are happy with that. The jury have instructed us to take the stern drive back to its original configuration which is quite easy for us and we will be doing that pretty much straight away.’
Commenting on the earlier protest regarding Internet access, Bourke said: ‘It was a very long day, and even with as much experience as we have had in prot