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10 February 2006, 09:37 am
Jury Throws Out Ericsson's Request For Redress
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Melbourne, Australia

An International Jury today threw out Ericsson's request for redress after being recalled for an early start in Saturday's Volvo Ocean Race In Port race in Melbourne, Australia. The jury did not have to resolve the question of whether Ericsson had actually crossed the start line early because it found that the team's request was invalid. Ericsson had taken 30 hours instead of two minutes to notify the race committee that it felt aggrieved
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In the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing there is a new Experimental Appendix Q which was used for the Volvo Ocean Race, which is aimed at resolving disputes and allowing misdemeanours to be exonerated on the water. The appendix, Appendix Q, was activated in the Sailing Instructions and Notice of Race for the In Port races.

It states:

Q5.1

A boat intending to request redress because of circumstances that arise before she finishes or retires shall clearly display a red flag as soon as possible after she becomes aware of those circumstances, but not later than two minutes after finishing or retiring. She shall keep the flag displayed until she has informed the umpires after finishing or retiring.

The International Jury, chaired by New Zealander Jack LLOYD, found that Ericsson did not raise a red flag and waited too long - until 2200 hours Sunday local time - to claim redress.

Although skipper Neal MCDONALD (GBR), who presented Ericsson's case to the jury, never got past first base, he was able to allege that starter Ross WILSON had confused Ericsson with Brasil 1.

'It was a clear case of mistaken identity,' MCDONALD said.

'We were amazed to be called [for being] over the line.'

He said that in the moments leading to the start (Ericsson was between ABN AMRO TWO, which was also recalled to the start, and Brasil 1 towards the pin end of the line) they had checked their transits, GPS and other instruments and were confident they were not premature.

MACDONALD Concedes Error

He conceded it was a mistake not to have flown a red protest flag on the backstay.

'In retrospect, we should have,' he said.

'Are you aware of the requirement?' asked Australian juror David TILLETT, who is also chairman of the ISAF Racing Rules Committee.

'Yes,' answered MCDONALD.

On returning to the dock after the In Port Race in which Ericsson finished fourth behind ABN AMRO ONE, Pirates of the Caribbean and movistar, MCDONALD said, 'We went about gathering information.'

But he said that it was not until 2000 on Sunday that he first saw video footage taken from the committee start boat the previous afternoon.

'That gave us more than adequate reason to seek redress,' he said.

Video Footage

Rules adviser to the Volvo Ocean Race, Richard SLATER told the jury that the footage from the committee boat was available on Saturday night when it was transmitted to TV networks. It was also made available to all the teams as a package at 1500 on Sunday.

Ericsson had first requested to see the footage in an email sent to race director Andy HINDLEY at 1200 on Sunday.

MCDONALD said he was engaged with sponsors throughout Sunday and did not have an opportunity to view the footage until 2000.

Quick Decision

After less than an hour, the jury retired to consider the validity question. They deliberated for 20 minutes and LLOYD announced that Ericsson's request was invalid under the rule Q5.1

LLOYD told MCDONALD that the Race Committee had the discretion to initiate its own action if there was any doubt in the mind of the starter, WILSON, about Ericsson (and not Brasil) being an early starter.

'I don't believe I made a mistake at all,' Wilson said. 'It is quite clear, absolutely clear in my mind and on my audio tape that there were two boats over - ABN AMRO and Ericsson.

'Brasil 1 was dead in the water and Ericsson was out in front underneath Brasil.'

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg 3 In Port race)

Pos Team Nation Skippers Pts
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 32.5
2 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 25
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 18
4 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 16.5
5 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 16
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 14.5
7 Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 11.5

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Volvo Ocean Race (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ericsson's protest was quickly thrown out by the Jury:© Sally COLLISON
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