ASSA vs illbruck

Roy Heiner's Assa Abloy protest John Kostecki's illbruck

Monday October 29th 2001, Author: John Greenland, Location: United Kingdom


At 14:11 GMT yesterday, five days after finishing, John Kostecki’s illbruck Challenge team were handed one final hurdle to jump before finally having their win of this first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race confirmed when Roy Heiner’s Assa Abloy filed a protest against them.

Just six short hours after finishing Roy Heiner’s Assa Abloy submitted a protest regarding illbruck’s list of ten web sites for meteorological information. The website in question, http://atmosfera.lma.fi.upm.es , leads directly to a web page giving information about the software running on the computer / server, not exactly useful for routing and navigating.

Each team was able to submit a list of 10 websites that they would wish to use during the race to gather weather information for navigation. There was a chance that the teams would have a total of 80 possible sites they could browse to download various weather models, however in practice only 48 sites were in total listed because several sites we selected by more than one team.

On fishing around the address listed by illbruck it is possible to find another website run by the Environmental Software Modelling Group at the University of Madrid. This site is found in a separate directory on adding ‘/rsm’ to the above address. It contains a link to detailed operational weather forecasts for the Iberian Peninsula.

The protest alleges that access to this extensive meterological information resource, only obtained through the addition of the suffix ‘/rsm’, is not publicly known and is not mentioned on the Web Site, nor was it published in the Leg 1 Sailing Instructions.

Assa Abloy further alleges that if the site was not publicly available nor known to all the other boats then use of it infringes the Racing Rule of Sailing 41 (RRS 41) as it falls outside of exemptions set out in the Notice of Race 7.4.3. It would also breaks Notice of Race 7.4.4.

Glen Bourke, Chief Executive of illbruck Challenge and representing illbruck, was not in a position to comment.

In a move rarely seen in racing the protest has been opened to one representative from each syndicate competing, and one representative from the media. The added novelty of the proceedings, scheduled to take place at 1200 GMT on Thursday 1 November, is that two of the five members of the Protest Committee will interact via a conference call facility.

The result of the protest will boil down to the definition of a website, and thus whether the addition of ‘/rsm’ to the address provided by illbruck still constitutes part of the same website. If it does then the information can be considered publicly available.

Dictionary.com’s definition: web site
A set of interconnected webpages, usually including a homepage, generally located on the same server, and prepared and maintained as a collection of information by a person, group or organization.

Considering the given address and the actual website are not interconnected as defined by Dictionary.com the two sites should be taken as separate. However this decision is now in the hands of the five jurors, Bryan Willis (Chairman), Geoff Myburgh (Vice-chairman), Stephen Flesch, Bo Samuelson, and Tony Mooney.

If the protest were to fall in the favour of Assa Abloy then the potential implications are that illbruck could have additional points imposed on them, or actually be disqualified from the leg - though this is somewhat extreme and unlikely.

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