Investec Loyal is now officially the line honours winner of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 2011 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race after the protest against her by the Race Committee was dismissed by the International Jury.
At 12.50pm today, the international jury informed Investec Loyal's skipper, Anthony Bell, that it was quashing the protest lodged by the Race Committee over a conversation between Investec Loyal's navigator Michael Coxon and an ABC helicopter crew.
Anthony Bell told reporters after the decision that the jury found that Investec Loyal had not sought any advantage when Coxon asked the ABC crew whether Wild Oats XI was flying a trysail and had received no advantage when told that she was not.
The jury process lasted nearly three hours. However, Bell said he was pleased that the process had been so thorough and that his win would now and forever be untarnished.
"For the crew, it's better to have a panel of our peers to come up with the answers,"
"I'm really pleased that this is how it turned out."
Wild Oats XI skipper, Mark Richards, had earlier declared his hope that the protest would go Investec Loyal's way, saying that, as far as he and his crew were concerned, Loyal had won on the water and that was all there was to it.
Nevertheless, Bell said he believed it was important that the jury process had been properly worked through.
"As much as you say 'we won on the water, don't worry what happens in the room', it does matter what happens,"
Bell fully supported his tactician, Michael Coxon, who had apologised to his skipper for the interchange with the ABC helicopter crew.
"We got to where we did in this race because of Michael Coxon,"
"Quite frankly, he was one of the key ingredients in making a boat that is probably slower in every wind angle than our opponent, get to the line fastest.
"It would be remiss of us to have anything but great feelings towards Michael, even if this didn't go right, because we wouldn't have been here in the first place without him."
In its decision, the international jury said Coxon's question to the ABC helicopter crew was "based on his concerns as a sailmaker involved in the construction of the mainsail on Wild Oats XI that was new technology and was a very expensive development sail. Its forerunner on another boat had failed."
"Michael Coxon, the CEO of North Sails Australia, therefore had a keen personal interest in its integrity and the information that the mainsail (the only one on board Wild Oats XI) was still being used, was of interest to Michael Coxon personally, but was of no 'help' to Investec Loyal as provided in rule 41.
"The jury is satisfied that the question asked by Michael Coxon was based on commercial concerns and not for reasons of 'race information' …"
Official race website: www.rolexsydneyhobart.com