Decided In the Room

The globe-girdling Volvo Extreme 40 series ends with a nasty twist.

Schreyer's Slap
Richard Blake/vx40

The Volvo Extreme 40 Grand Prix series was up for grabs several times on the final day in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and when it was all said and done, the now bitter rivals of Team Basilica and the American entry Tommy Hilfiger settled the series in an undesirable location-in front of the protest jury. Three protest hearings and three races eventually saw Motorola-CHR win the Rotterdam regatta by a 1 point over Hilfiger in second and Basilica one further point behind in third, but all points totaled, Hilfiger won the overall the class's first title with 4 points to spare Basilica. Basilica, skippered by James Grant began the afternoon's racing ahead of the Hilfiger squad, manned by Randy Smyth, Stan Schreyer, Jonathan Farrar, and Richard Feeney. On the water Basilica racked up a first, a third, and a second to finish the overall series on points ahead of Smyth and crew, seemingly giving them the regatta victory and the overall title. In the second to last race, however, Hilfiger protested Basilica in a weather mark incident, and then Basilica in turn protested Hilfiger at the following leeward a mark, claiming Hilfiger touched it. Grant says the ruling of the weather mark incident was "bull#$*." He says both boat were short of laying the mark on the starboard layline and both tacked simultaneously to port, and then starboard. "They got a puff just as they were completing their tack, and accelerated quicker, and we had nowhere to go." The jury claimed Basilica had tacked inside the two-length zone, and Hilfiger's course alteration was enough to convince the jury to disqualify them from the race. As far as the leeward mark incident, Grant says they Hilfiger clearly touched the mark, but "lied" in the protest. Smyth and his crew were unavailable for comment. "It's unfortunate the way the series ended, and shows we need on-the-water judging," said Grant by telephone. "But we're happy with how far we've come as team since the first event in Spain. If you'd told us then that we'd be fighting for the top spot, I wouldn't have believed it. We out-sailed Hilfiger today and feel that we won this regatta on the water with some great racing. To have it subsequently taken away from us in two very marginal protest hearings is unbelievably hard to take, and is a clear indication that there is a clear need for on-water judging in this kind of close-quarter racing." Volvo Extreme 40 Grand Prix Series Final Points Standings: 1. Tommy Hilfiger - 40 points 2. Basilica - 36 points 3. Motorola-CHR - 36 points 4. Holmatro - 29 points 5. Volvo Ocean Race - 24 points Rotterdam Grand Prix Final Points Standings: 1. Motorola - 114 points 2. Tommy Hilfiger - 113 points 3. Basilica - 112 points 4. Holmatro - 102 points 5. Volvo Ocean Race - 72 points