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Rolex Sydney-Hobart: LDV COMANCHE wins, WILD OATS XI stripped of title

HOBART, Australia (AP) — Super maxi LDV COMANCHE was awarded line honors in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race after its protest against WILD OATS XI was upheld over an incident early in the race. WILD OATS XI was found to have breached race rules over a tacking manoeuver at the start on Tuesday in Sydney Harbour. The eight-time winner was penalized one hour after lengthy deliberations by a five-person jury in Hobart on Thursday. WILD OATS XI had finished the race Wednesday 26 minutes ahead of Comanche, a lead that was wiped out with the penalty.

The above headline and story was just issued by the Associated Press. The text of the International Jury's pithy, full decision:


Protest: Maxi 12358 "LDV Comanche" represented by James Spithill vs.

Maxi 10001 "Wild Oats XI" represented by Mark Richards Protest is valid.


James Cooney (LDV Comanche, crew) video.

Ian Burns (Wild Oats XI) video

Jim Cooney (LDV Comanche, owner)

Stan Honey (LDV Comanche, crew - navigator) navigation data.

Ian Murray (Wild Oats XI, crew - tactitian)


Both boats were on a beat to windward between Mark V and Mark Z, in light wind and a confused sea state.

LDV Comanche tacked onto starboard and was on starboard for approximately 45 seconds. Wild Oats XI was on port on a collision course.

Both boats were doing approximately 9 knots of boat speed.

LDV Comanche did not make any discernible change of course while on starboard.

When the boats were approximately 2 boat lengths apart, Wild Oats XI started to tack onto starboard.

LDV Comanche luffed to avoid a collision before Wild Oats XI completed her tack.

There was no contact.

Neither boat took a two turn penalty.


Wild Oats XI on port had to keep clear of LDV Comanche, RRS 10.

Wild Oats XI failed to keep clear while tacking, RRS 13.

LDV Comanche luffed to avoid a collision as required by RRS 14.

Wild Oats XI did not comply with SI 20.1 (a) to do a two turn penalty for breaking a rule of Part 2 occurring prior to clearing Mark Z.


Wild Oats XI is, in lieu of a disqualification, penalised a time penalty of 1 hour to be added to her elapsed time in accordance to SI 20.1(b) and 22.1

International Jury:

John Rountree (Chairman IJ NZL), Erica Kirby (NJ AUS), Jonathon Rees (NJ AUS), Peter Scheuerl (IJ GER), Jamie Sutherland (IJ NZL)


John Rountree – Chairman

The story, verbatim, published on the official Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website:

LDV Comanche has been awarded Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race line honours after its protest against Wild Oats XI was heard by the international jury late this afternoon

International Jury Chairman, John Rountree said: “Wild Oats XI on port had to keep clear of LDV Comanche under Rule 10. Wild Oats XI failed to keep clear while tacking – Rule 13. LDV Comanche luffed to avoid a collision – Rule 14. Wild Oats XI did not comply with Sailing Instruction (S.I.) 20.1a to do a two-turn penalty for breaking the rule of part 2 occurring prior to clearing mark Zulu. The decision is in lieu of disqualification, penalised a time penalty of one hour to be added to her elapsed time in accordance with Sailing Instruction 20.1b and SI 22.1.”

Like Wild Oats XI, LDV Comanche finished inside last year’s record time, so the new record is one day 9 hours 15 minutes 24 seconds. She finished 26 minutes behind Wild Oats XI, but the latter’s one hour penalty means Comanche takes line honours by 34 minutes from Wild Oats XI.

After the hearing, Jim Cooney said: “I think it’s entirely fair and reasonable that the jury acted as they did. When you’re dealing with boats of this size and this calibre, we are at the elite level of our sport, and the boats have to be conducted responsibly in fair respect of the conditions and the impact that your manouvres might have.

“I felt very strongly that wasn’t the case,” Cooney said. “The rules are there to protect the people and the boats and if we can’t rely on that it’s a difficulty in the sport.”

Cooney said the way they won the race has not taken any gloss off the sport. “The race is about how you conduct yourself and how your crew performs and how the boat performs. We feel we sail to the best of our abilities and (to win) justified our boat’s performance and the crew’s preparation.”

Wild Oats XI’s skipper, Mark Richards and Sandy Oatley representing the Oatley family, were gracious in defeat.

Richards said, “Obviously we’re very disappointed, but the international jury had a job to do. They saw the incident the way they saw it, we saw it a little bit differently, but the result is the result and we have to respect the decision of the jury.”

Sandy Oatley added: “We’d just like to congratulate Jim Cooney and his crew for their success, and move forward.”

The line honours presentation is taking place at the Race Village at 7.15pm this evening.

Your Ed. cannot help but mention that the results of the mock protest hearing that Sailing Illustrated conducted on Facebook Live Wednesday afternoon (USA time) resulted in the same decision as the jury's with a 30 minute penalty instead of sixty minutes, which had the same effect of "stripping WILD OATS XI of the title" as the AP headline reported.

Finally, an hour before the protest hearing began your Ed. penned a post on his personal Facebook page saying what he believed the decision and penalty would and should be, and why. That post aligns very closely with the jury's decision and penalty, and the many comments to that post are an interesting read in and of themselves.

Sailing Illustrated congratulates the International Jury on what we firmly believe is a just and reasonable decision. For the record, the members of the International Jury are: John Rountree IJ (NZL) (Chairman), Peter Scheuerl IJ (GER), Jamie Sutherland IJ (NZL), Jonathon Rees NJ (AUS), and Erica Kirby NJ (AUS).

LDV COMANCHE during the 2017 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. Photo courtesy of the RSHYR website; photographer not identified.

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