Imagine It. Done. skipper, Dee CAFARI (GBR) lodged a protest accusing BP Explorer of 'luffing after sunset' on 6 June at 0052 hours UTC. The following description of the incident was published in the Daily Log for Imagine It. Done. on 6 June 'After slowly gaining on them over several hours, we found ourselves within a couple of hundred yards of them and slightly to windward just after sunset. As we continued to gain on them, they started to alter their course to prevent us from passing, until both boats were heading above the course to Boston and sailing at much higher angles than we would normally choose to do with a spinnaker. As the light was fading and it became harder to see them and gauge distances we were forced to divert to keep a safe distance from them and we currently have the intention to protest the other boat for failure to comply with collision regulations at night'.
The international jury convened on Saturday at 1000 hours local time. The panel consisted of five jurors from three nationalities (two Americans, two Canadians and one British Juror). Having established the validity of the protest the jury then heard from both parties and their nominated witnesses with the arguments and cross examinations lasting for a total of approximately two and a half hours. The jury then spent a further two hours deliberating the facts before reaching a final decision.
The case essentially revolves around the fact that the fleet races under two sets of rules. During the hours of daylight from Sunrise until Sunset the Racing Rules of Sailing apply, after Sunset and before Sunrise the IRPCAS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea) apply. In this case the incident happened 40 minutes after Sunset - therefore the IRPCAS rules were those in force, specifically Rule 17.
Whilst a racing sailor's natural instinct is to defend his or her position on the race course, this cannot be done after Sunset without consideration for the restrictions imposed by IRPCAS. BP Explorer's actions were therefore a technical infringement of the rules and as such Imagine It. Done. were correct to bring to the matter before the international jury. The international jury, having upheld the protest, penalized BP Explorer three points. In accordance with General Sailing Instruction 22, the positions and points of other boats will remain unchanged. The international jury's decision is final and not open to appeal.