Protest lodged against Wild Oats XI after Sydney to Hobart win

Hobart: Wild Oats XI's Sydney to Hobart line honours win is under a cloud, with the event's race committee advising the yacht may have breached regulations.

A protest has been lodged against the supermaxi after the race committee received a report from the owner of runner-up Black Jack that claimed Wild Oats XI's automatic identification system had not transmitted throughout the race.

Black Jack owner Peter Harburg said his second-placed yacht had been disadvantaged because a tracker on Wild Oats XI was not on late in the race, telling the ABC: "The rules say its got to be on all the time. They knew where we were all the time, so that has disadvantaged us and Comanche and we are very disappointed in that."

Adding to the drama was the fact Wild Oats XI had been denied victory last year after finishing the race in record time only to be stripped of the title after a time penalty was applied for coming too close to rival yacht Comanche just outside the Sydney heads at the start of the race.


That followed a run of bad luck with Wild Oats XI being forced to retire from the race after sustaining damage in 2015 and 2016, the year owner Bob Oatley died. In light of that history, skipper Mark Richards had branded his crews victory on Friday as "redemption day".

"Its fantastic, words cant explain it right now," Richards said earlier on Friday.

Victory under a cloud: Wild Oats XI closes in on Hobart on Friday morning.

Victory under a cloud: Wild Oats XI closes in on Hobart on Friday morning.Credit:Carlo Borlenghi

Richards described the dispute as a storm in a teacup and a spokesman for Wild Oats XI added: "There is no issue at all to answer for. The AIS [tracker] was turned on for the entire race. It was tested. There have been no problems with it whatsoever."

Third-placed Comanche skipper Jim Cooney said he was unfussed by the tracker dispute because each yachts position, speed and direction were available from other geolocation devices on each boat.

"I dont feel disadvantaged or unfairly treated because the information about the yachts performance is fairly readily available," Cooney said earlier on Friday.

Wild Oats XI finished in 1 day, 19 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds, well behind last years record of 1 day, nine hours and 15 minutes set by Comanche when unusually strong winds propelled the fleet across Bass Strait and down the east coast of Tasmania.

But that did not dampen the victors spirits. Richards followed tradition, drinking champagne and taking a dip in the Derwent River at his crews behest.

But he also made the non-traditional choice to drink some of his champagne from a shoe.
Asked about plans for next years 75th Sydney to Hobart, Richards said: "Dont rip up your tickets."

Nick Bonyhady and AAP

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