Race favourite LDV Comanche has lodged a formal protest against Wild Oats XI after the two yachts almost collided soon after the start of this year’s Sydney to Hobart.
The two glamour yachts narrowly avoided contact, which would have probably ended both of their races and potentially caused millions of dollars of damage.
Owner Jim Cooney confirmed during the mandatory 5pm radio call that his team would follow through with the protest after they raised the red flag moments after the incident.
It must file a protest within six hours of arriving in Hobart, and an international jury will meet after the race to hear the case.
“We had a near miss with Wild Oats,” Cooney said via satellite phone.
After a slow start, Wild Oats XI picked up speed through Sydney Harbour and came close to colliding with LDV Comanche just before passing the seamarks outside the Heads.
The LDV Comanche crew were left gesticulating wildly towards their opponents moments before the red protest flag was raised.
LDV Comanche helmsman James Spithall could be heard shouting “How far the lay line?” to navigator Stan Honey moments after the near miss.
Wild Oats XI had the option to make a 720-degree turn when safe to do so after the incident, and this would have saved them from a protest hearing and subsequent penalty but decided against doing so.
Richards’ crew discussed making the penalty turn but decided not to engage in the manoeuvre.
“We didn’t think there was an infraction,” Wild Oats XI navigator Ian Burns said.
“We discussed the 720-degree penalty and decided we didn’t need to under the circumstances. [We] continued on, aware of the fact Comanche put up the red protest flag.”
Wild Oats XI is facing punishment from the incident should the jury find it guilty. That will most likely come in the form of a time penalty, a minimum of which would be five minutes.
LDV Comanche bounced back from the near miss and established a handy lead late on Tuesday with a favourable north-easterly expected to push her along even further overnight.
Richards’ crew and fellow super maxi Black Jack are counting on calm conditions on the Derwent River in Storm Bay as key to their chances of reeling in Cooney’s hulking yacht.
Should a tight finish unfold in the Derwent River, a time penalty could have a significant bearing on the line-honours result of the race.
Eight-time winner Wild Oats XI is chasing its first race win in three years, but its luck has turned significantly since finishing first across the line in 2014.
This latest incident follows a lightning strike to the mast in the lead-up to the race that destroyed the boat’s navigation systems, forcing a last-minute scramble to replace the equipment.
Fellow super maxi Black Jack lent the boat some spare navigation equipment to ensure Richards’ team could chase a record ninth line-honours win.
Last year Wild Oats XI retired after the first night when a damaged hydraulics ram prematurely ended its campaign.
That followed on from 2015 when a rapid wind change shredded its mainsail, again forcing it into an early retirement.
LDV Comanche, meanwhile, is aiming for a second win in three years after claiming line honours in 2015. She didn’t contest the 2015 race and was only recently purchased by Cooney.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.