Prang without penalty

John Greenland looks at the implications of SEB getting off the hook
The path to yesterday's 'Not Guilty' verdict for SEB has been a tortuous one and here in Miami many of those involved with the event have been impressed by skipper Gunnar Krantz' spirited defence in yesterday's protest hearing. To remind ourselves of what happened - late in the afternoon of the start of leg five while the fleet were beating eastward along the Brazilian coast towards Cape Freo there was a port-starboard incident between illbruck and SEB. SEB was port tack boat and while attempting to dip illbruck's stern there was according to skipper Gunnar Krantz, a miscommunication between the anonymous helmsman and bowman over whether they were going to clear illbruck's transom. The result was a collision at around 8 knots between the bottom of SEB's bow and illbruck's port aft quarter (she was heeled over to port at the time). The collision created a minor hole in illbruck, ripping out a stanchion and destroying the padeye for the masthead spinnaker sheet turning block. SEB were fortunate in that the collision destroyed much of their sacrificial bow and only made a small hole in the crash bulkhead (believed to have been made by illbruck's stanchion) behind the sacrificial bow. This hole the crew were able to plug and continue racing. Following the collision SEB carried out a 720deg penalty turn in accordance with the rules. During the leg north to Miami illbruck went from last place to first and would have won the leg if she hadn't been pipped at the post by Assa Abloy. SEB was also lying at the back the fleet after the collision until the team pulled a smart navigational move heading west to make the Doldrums crossing and pushing them into fourth position which they held until the finish, despite an eleventh hour challenge from