Nominated Global Challenge Race Committee representative Matthew RATSEY attended and each party put their case before the jury. None of the hard and fast facts in the case were disputed, as Pindar acknowledged the breach of RRS 42.1 in accordance with GSI 20 (General Sailing Instruction 20; which allows teams to acknowledge any breaches of the Racing Rules for Sailing).
Nonetheless, the rules were broken so the Race Committee's protest against Pindar was heard.
'The jury met for about an hour,' said RATSEY, 'considered the various facts and awarded a 40 minute penalty on time, based on a judgement about how long the manoeuvre would have taken had they not started their engine … They accepted Loz's [MARRIOTT (GBR), Pidar's skipper] statement that it was an error of judgement and wasn't deliberate.'
Considering Pindar was racing for 38 days, 4 hours and 35 minutes, a 40 minute time penalty sounds relatively harmless. However, the leg came to an incredibly close conclusion, and SAIC La Jolla crossed the finish line just 6 minutes and 6 seconds after Pindar.
So, although the penalty amounts to approximately 0.07% of Pindar's total elapsed time, it is enough to alter the leaderboard in SAIC La Jolla's favour. Pindar is now in sixth place and awarded ten points for the leg, and SAIC La Jolla moves up into fifth and takes eleven points away from leg four.
MARRIOTT was asked about the incident in question after the hearing: 'If I look back I had several options,' he replied. 'One was to try and sail the boat backwards, which I felt was an unsafe manoeuvre at the time considering the conditions we were in. Another option would have been to put someone in the water, which at 48° South in the Southern Ocean didn't even cross my mind, and the other one was to drop all the sails. So there were of course other options but in the circumstances I unwittingly made a rash decision. I realized we had broken the Class Rules after I had done it so I sent the email immediately.'
'The protest [hearing] went very well - one of my crew, Damian VAILE [(GBR)], headed the protest up as he is a lawyer back home and I was called as a witness. He put the case across very nicely and I believe it was a very lenient penalty - a 40 minute time penalty. There is a knock on effect though, 40 minutes doesn't sound too bad, but because SAIC La Jolla were only six minutes and six seconds behind us it means we go into sixth place and we lose a point so I'm effectively being deducted a point and a position.'
'It's a bit of a kick in the teeth but it was our mistake and we made that decision. We could have kept it quiet but we're an honest boat and don't want to be classed as liars or cheats. Pindar will be back and ready for the next leg.'
Further to the alterations to the leg four leaderboard, there will also be a knock-on effect on the overall table. Before the hearing, Pindar was provisionally in joint ninth with VAIO on 32 points, but will now slip to tenth on 31 points.
The race is still so close that one point results in a position change for both teams on the overall table. SAIC La Jolla had provisionally been in joint fourth with Samsung, but with their extra point, their tally rises to 42 and they take sole claim on fourth, relegating Samsung to fifth.