The Right Call in Hobart

Author:
Publish date:

There are few things out there that’ll ruin any game faster than not following the rules. Not only that, but when it comes to a game like sailboat racing, not following the rules can also get people hurt, or even killed.

I found myself thinking these thoughts while reviewing video of the port-starboard incident between Wild Oats XI and LDV Comanche shortly after the start of last December’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. In the end, Wild Oats XI was penalized 60 minutes for not adequately giving way, which in turn, caused the team to forfeit both its dramatic come-from-behind line-honors victory over LDV Comanche and a new race record. This, of course, elicited a storm of wailing and gnashing of teeth, including apparently by at least one member of the Wild Oats XI’s crew—although not, I’m happy to report, by the boat’s longtime skipper, Mark Richards, who said he respected the jury’s decision.

Still, what I want to know is, what exactly are these complainers thinking? And for that matter, why did Richards and the rest of the Wild Oats XI crew ever allow things to get that close in the first place? These are, after all, massively powerful boats fully capable of being ticketed for speeding in a typical residential neighborhood. They’re remarkably nimble for their size, but not that nimble. We’re not talking collegiate 420s here.

I get it, you want to be competitive, but there’s all the difference in the world between being aggressive and reckless. When in doubt, get the hell out of there. Even when racing inshore, a single tack or windward-leeward situation isn’t going to make an entire regatta.

Unfortunately, in today’s “extreme” sports environment, there are all too many who believe that if you don’t have on either a helmet, Kevlar body armor or ski goggles you aren’t taking things seriously. That doesn’t mean, though, that it’s OK to be wantonly dangerous. You get caught pushing your luck too far and things don’t go your way in the committee room afterward, that’s too damn bad. Be a sport about it, take your lumps, the way Richards did. And if it causes you to lose the race, the regatta or a line-honors record, well maybe you’ll be a bit more careful next time around.

I distinctly remember a heavy-air race in Chicago when a 40ft PHRF boat absolutely refused to give way after getting caught early at the line. I’m sure the skipper thought he was simply giving it his all as he went reaching toward the pin end accompanied by a chorus of angry bowmen to leeward—at least until he was hit by a right-of-way boat that hadn’t seen him coming in the melee.

To all those who think Wild Oats XI was judged too harshly, this is sailing, not Ultimate Fighting. Again, when in doubt, get the hell out of there before it’s too late, and live to fight another day.

As for LDV Comanche’s line-honors victory, not only did she come by it fair-and-square, her victory was as honorable as any victory out there—not just because she’s a hell of a fast boat with a hell of a crew, but because she played by the rules. For complete results, go to rolexsydneyhobart.com

Images courtesy of Rolex Sydney Hobart

March 2018

Related

BoatTalk-2048

VIDEO: Sailing Not just for Millionaires

Sailing and boating can come with a hefty price tag, but there are plenty of ways to get on the water without breaking the bank. In this episode of Boat Talk, SAIL's managing editor Lydia Mullan and Power & Motor Yacht's executive editor Charlie Levine share tips on getting out ...read more

Cornell-2048x

Elcano Challenge Resurrected

In late 2020, sailing legend Jimmy Cornell set off on his Elcano Challenge, a green-powered circumnavigation aboard the custom Outremer Aventura Zero. Unfortunately, shortly after setting out, the boat encountered major power-generation issues. "I took the decision to turn ...read more

F8V-BOOK-for-SAIL---1

Book Review: The Figure 8 Voyage

“What is the color of the ocean that rolls beneath Pacific trades? How does a wave curl and crash at 47 degrees south? Can an albatross remain awing in the worst of weathers?” Randall Reeves has always found images to be the most compelling part of the stories we tell about the ...read more

AC210117cb_23806

VIDEO: Capsize in the Prada Cup

American Magic's Patriot capsized during day three of the Prada Cup. If you haven't yet watched the catastrophe unfold with your own eyes, check out the above video or any number of others that are circulating on social media. It's truly a tip that has to be seen to be believed. ...read more

210115-AC36

Prada Cup: Brits Take First Two Races

Who saw that coming? After getting skunked in December, INEOS Team UK has swept the first two races in the Prada Cup elimination series of the 36th America’s Cup  Racing took place on racecourse “C,” sheltered between Auckland’s North Head and Bastion Point to take advantage of ...read more

ac-2048x

Hutchinson: 36th America’s Cup will be a Close On

On the eve of the Prada Cup challenger series, the official start of the 36th America’s Cup, New York Yacht Club American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson says it’s anyone’s game. "As we've seen in the last week, everyone's gotten faster," said Hutchinson said at the event’s ...read more

Episode1_Thumbnail4_00000_00000_00000_00000

Sailing Docuseries Released Online

Endless Media's Reaching Reality is the story of three friends, a 24-foot sailboat and 1,200 miles. With candor and humor, this series proves that you don't need to be an expert or a millionaire to cast off on the journey of a lifetime. Produced by Emmy-award winner Barry ...read more

01-LEAD-nder-sail-3

Prepping for a Transatlantic

Growing up on the coast of northern England, I dreamed about crossing oceans on my own boat. Like most of us, though, education, a family and a career took precedence, and before I knew it, we had mortgages, young children and endless work obligations. We also became landlocked, ...read more