A look a the sixth week of the first leg of the 2001/2 Volvo Ocean Race

A look a the sixth week of the first leg of the 2001/2 Volvo Ocean Race

  • Website weather access issue with internet weather access virtually impossible to police, the VOR boat situation could get worse

  • illbruck’s lucky day: despite infringing the rules, illbruck retains her top position. But has the protest decision opened the doors to future pushing of rules?

Just when we thought all the excitement of the first leg was over with the entire fleet home and dry in Cape Town, news came of not one, but two protests against the winning boat illbruck which immediately threatened her leading position. The first protest came from Assa Abloy over a breach in the rules regarding website weather access. Team Assa Abloy stated on their protest form that the site that illbruck was using was not one that was publicly available nor known to all other boats and therefore infringed RRS41.

However, illbruck demonstrated that the site in question was available by clicking on the links from one of the nominated website. And by successfully defending their case, the protest was withdrawn and illbruck’s position remained in tact.

However, with such massive internet access potential from the vast list of on-board available sites, this was an issue that was bound to flare up at some point during the race. And with access to websites virtually impossible to police, there is no doubt this will not be the end of this particular problem.

Having defended themselves in the first protest which was relatively straight forward, Team illbruck moved on to the more serious one, which should have been far more difficult to defend. It was a protest lodged by the race committee over at technical issue, a modification to the propeller which included adding a weed-cutting device and re-shaping to improve the aerodynamics. However, despite what looked to be clear-cut rule-breaking issue, illbruck has escaped with ‘1,000 fine and no time penalty.

While team illbruck will be undoubtedly breathing a big sigh of relief about not loosing their leading position, one has to question the reasons behind the decision and what repercussions will arise following this protest result. There is no doubt that by letting illbruck ‘off lightly’, the doors have effectively been opened and the chances of more similar rule-breaking issues developing will become more likely.