Self abuse

SEB to be protested over illbruck collision - but not for the obvious reasons

Thursday March 28th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
In a case which could have interesting implications, the Volvo Ocean Race Race Committee is to protest SEB effectively for damaging themselves following their collision with illbruck late in the afternoon on the first day of leg five.

The protest form reads: "Standard Sailing Instruction 1.6.1 requires the Race Committee to protest SEB for having caused serious damage to herself during a collision with illbruck, for which she acknowledged her breach of RRS 10 (racing rules of sailing) and took the required penalty at the time of the incident.

"The loss of non-structural skins and damage to the underlying foam forward of the collision bulkhead on SEB does not, in our opinion, constitute 'serious' damage. However, other damage to SEB, specifically the partial crushing of the forward collision bulkhead and the associated damage to the hull immediately aft of that bulkhead, has compromised the watertight integrity of the hull in an area frequently immersed during sailing. In the opinion of the Race Committee, this constitutes 'serious damage'.

"The Race Committee does not consider the damage sustained by illbruck during the collision to be 'serious damage'".

The International Jury is due to arrive here in Miami tonight and the protest will be heard either tomorrow or on Saturday. SEB is currently out of the water with her damaged bow hidden as her crew attempt to establish the full extent of the damage. It is believed that during the leg the damaged bulkhead was letting in around two buckets of water an hour. The crew tried to plug the hole with a rag, backed by a cut up piece of internal furniture, braced by a batten with the whole lot glued in place with Sikaflex.

SEB finished fourth in leg five and currently stands in seventh place on the overall scoreboard. If the protest committee deem that she did inflict serious damage to herself through a collision with another yacht then under rule 1.7.2 c) ii) of the Sailing Instructions the penalty is stated as "5 place penalty or disqualification". It is not stated whether this applies to the leg or overall results, but it is presumed the former. If the penalty is five places taken off then it seems likely that SEB will receive one minus point for leg five. In this case it is likely that SEB will simply retire from the leg and still get 1 point for doing so (there were some rumblings when Tyco received one point for travelling to Sydney on a ship, following their post-rudder breakage on leg 2).

If she loses five places or retures then the other boats will all shift up a place.

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