CAPE TOWN – Steve Hayles (GBR), Team Sun Hun Kai / Scallywag's navigator for Legs 1 and 2, has left the team, or so your Ed. is reliably informed from a number of sources following publication of our story earlier today about the Rule 69 protest that has been filed against the Hong Kong-based team's skipper David Witt (GBR) and Mr Hayles.
Whether Hayles quit, or was fired, depends upon whom you ask. Most of our sources insist that Steve quit, referring to the Scallywag skipper with several plays on his last name that won't take a lot of imagination from our clever Dear Readers to derive. And the departure was, reportedly, not over any one particular issue (e.g., the incident leading to the protest) but, to be polite, general demeanor.
However, one or two others tell your Ed. that in fact Mr Hayles was fired by Mr Witt, but it seems like that may have been more in the way of an attempt at damage control by the Skipper after the fact.
Regardless, it will be interesting to learn what each has to say before the jury during Thursday's hearing, and whether their stories, er, jibe or conflict.
A couple corrections to our earlier story, and some details we have since learned....
The hearing on Thursday involves only Messrs Witt and Hayle. We were told others were also protested (as we reported in our earlier story), but if they were they will not be part of Thursday's hearing. It may be that no one else was protested other than Witt and Hayles, and that we were misinformed. It wouldn't have happened if the VOR Management were transparent with protests and related information by posting to a public notice board. We have not been able to obtain a copy of the protest, at least not yet. Apparently the protest was filed during Leg 2 which ended over a week ago, and the team was not informed until after the finish. It only became public when we broke the news here on Sailing Illustrated earlier today.
We also hear that the offending (to some) video was posted to the team's section of the VOR website by a close friend of Mr Witt who serves on the Scallywag PR team. It then automatically re-posted to the VOR raw feed, without comment by VOR staff, which carries all such photos and videos coming in from the boats, almost real time. Moreover, apparently the VOR staff kept taking down the video only to find it repeatedly re-posted by the Scallywag team. No doubt this tidbit will be taken into account by the Jury, and presumably the VOR media team are reviewing their protocols. There's a lot of race left – Leg 3 of 11 starts this Sunday, Cape Town to Melbourne, 6500 miles through the rambunctious Southern Ocean.
Finally, we have learned the name of the Event Disciplinary Investigation Officer ("EDIO") – the person who looked into the matter after complaints from people not associated with the event and decided there was a basis for filing the protest against Witt and Hayles that will be heard this Thursday in Cape Town – longtime international judge and umpire John Doerr (GBR).