Tyco off the hook

Shoebridge to have his pocket money stopped.

Wednesday January 9th 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: Australasia
Tyco has been fined just £500 for her breach of the Sydney-Hobart Race safety regulations. Tyco skipper, Kevin Shoebridge (right) was clearly relieved that they had escaped so lightly. The protest followed an earlier unsuccessful Request for Redress from News Corp and SEB asking the Race Committee to reconsider their scoring of Tyco on leg 3 following her failure to complete a compulsory radio safety call.

Having established that News Corp had good reason to bring the protest outside the normal 24 hour time limit the Jury decided that protest was valid and would be heard. Following their pronouncements the previous day, there was then little doubt that Tyco would be found guilty of a breach of the Volvo Ocean Race sailing instructions and all that remained to be argued about was the penalty.

News Corp asked the International Jury to impose a one-point penalty. Tyco replied that they had already suffered a penalty as imposed by the Sydney to Hobart Race Committee (though quite what this had to do with the results of the Volvo Ocean Race is open to debate).

Other teams present at the hearing also made submissions to the International Jury. SEB asked if a one point penalty would be disproportionate to the nature of the rule infringement. illbruck said "no penalty," pointing out that they wanted to see the race settled on the water. Assa Abloy submitted that it would support News Corp's request.

The Jury then looked at the basic facts of the case to establish what they thought was an appropriate penalty. No one disputed that Tyco was required by Volvo Ocean Race leg 3 Sailing Instructions to comply with Sydney-Hobart communication requirements and report to the Sydney-Hobart race committee by SSB radio within 60 minutes of passing latitude 37 degrees 15 minutes South.

Similarly, the fact that Tyco reported 67 minutes after passing 37 15 South was not disputed. Tyco claimed, and the Jury accepted, that they had made every effort to make their SSB radio operational during this time.

In the view of the Jury, Tyco did not gain any advantage by the delay in reporting.

On this basis the Jury decided a place penalty was inappropriate. In his written statement, the Jury Chairman, Bryan Willis points out, "In Sailing Instruction 1.7, the Organising Authority has given the Jury a framework of penalties, with a maximum financial penalty of £1000 for this type of infringement where no boats' position in the race was affected." Within this scale, the Jury decided to impose a £500 fine, which is to be paid to the Race Committee before the start of Leg 4.

Though News Corp Campaign Director and Navigator, Ross Field was pleased that the protest was upheld by the Jury, he was clearly disappointed that another competitor rather then the Race Committee had to take action. "The compulsory radio call at Green Point was to ensure our safety," said Field after the hearing. "It is the responsibility of the Volvo Ocean Race Committee to ensure all boats comply with safety measures and with the sailing instructions they issue."

" Team News Corp asked for clarification on Tyco's status after she was issued a DNF by the Sydney-Hobart Race committee," Field continued. "The Volvo Ocean Race Committee failed to clarify the situation. The already ambiguous sailing instructions had been called into question with failure to report. We believed Tyco was out of the leg and therefore, tactically, we were not sailing to cover a non-competitor. If this was not the case, we should have been made aware of it immediately."

This view was echoed by News Corp skipper, Jez Fanstone who pointed out, "the only reason the Sydney-Hobart race is still able to go ahead is due to stringent safety regulations. It was our duty, and the duty of the Volvo Ocean Race Committee, to comply with these regulations."

Page two... The official Jury decision in full
Page three... Rules and sailing instructions.

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