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Protests May Spoil illbruck’s Victory

November 1, 2001
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Roy Heiner and Mark Rudiger’s Assa Abloy protested John Kostecki’s illbruck Challenge on Monday, alleging that illbruck accessed an illegal website in the opening week of Leg 1. In its protest, which is scheduled to be heard late this afternoon in Cape Town, Assa stated that direct access to one of illbruck’s nominated websites required the addition of a three-letter suffix that was not “publicly known.” Consequently, they felt that the site, and its weather information, was not publicly available to all competitors. illbruck’s use of it, they say, infringed RRS 41 (Outside Help). It’s believed, however, that the issue is more of a technicality and that illbruck will likely emerge from the protest unscathed.

However, escaping a second protest, one lodged by the race committee on Tuesday, may not be so easy. This one was filed after V.O. 60 class measurer James Dadd reported to the race committee that illbruck had modified the strut of its Volvo Penta S-Drive, adding a weed cutter to its leading edge and fairing the entire appendage. This particular protest has the crew fearing the loss of hard-earned points, or worse, disqualification from the leg.

The class rules clearly state, “Only modifications to specified machinery approved by the chief measurer are permitted. The chief measurer may only approve modification in exceptional circumstances. Modification, which results in lighter specified machinery, will not be approved. All items supplied by Volvo Penta including engine beds and auxiliary equipment are governed by this rule.”

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The hearing regarding illbruck’s modification is scheduled for Friday, 1500 GMT local time, but a recent interpretation by V.O. 60 class chief measurer John Warren, as reported in a news release issued by race organizers, hinted at a nearly impossible defense for illbruck. The addition of the weed cutter alters the profile of the S-Drive, said Warren, and is therefore a modification. “It is considered that there are no exceptional circumstances and the modification is not approved. Any addition of fairing compound to alter the standard shape of the Volvo Penta S-Drive is also a modification for which there are no exceptional circumstances for approval.”

If illbruck is penalized, it’s unclear what the punishment would be. The notice of race has amended RRS 64.1(a) to allow the International Jury to “waive penalties and/or invoke penalties other than disqualification.” One illbruck crewmember told GPS that he’d heard that, if it were imposed, there would likely be a two-place penalty. If so, the others would move up the standings accordingly. If illbruck is disqualified, they will be stripped of any points awarded for the leg. With zero points, they’ll drop to the bottom of the standings.

While illbruck’s shorecrew tended the boat, and its management got its legal team in order, the Cape Town waterfront welcomed the final two with Knut Frostad’s djuice dragons arriving late Tuesday night, followed six hours later by Lisa Charles’ Amer Sports Too. Both crews were noticeably worn from 37 days at sea and the leg had taken its mental toll on the resilient and confident Frostad. “I’m not sure if difficult is the right word — I think frustrating is the right word,” he said upon finishing. “We came out on the wrong lane very early on and there was no way of really catching up. We caught up to a couple of boats but we didn’t really pick up on the list. It’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing. We fought so hard for so little.” In an interview with race media, Frostad hinted at possible crew changes, for the upcoming leg to Sydney, but would say no more.

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For the girls on Amer Too, the last group to come together, and the last boat to finish, their arrival in Cape Town was a chance to regroup and prepare for the start of Leg 2 on November 11. “We’ve got a bit of work to do, but no really big jobs fortunately, probably a bit of practice with spinnakers before we go into the Southern Ocean,” said Charles. “A few little detailed jobs, but all in all we’re in good shape.”

In summing the arduous leg for the backmarkers, Amer Too’s navigator Genevieve White said, “You always hear stories about the girls being a week behind last time, whereas we’ve come in just six or seven hours behind the boats in front of us. In some ways, we did better than expected, but amongst all of us we’re all so competitive that deep down, we know we can do it. We’re not surprised at all.”

Leg 1 Overall Times
illbruck: 31d 06h 19m 49s
Amer Sports One: 31d 08h 20m 56s
Team News Corp: 32d 15h 57m 17s
Tyco: 33d 16h 37m 49s
Assa Abloy 034d 18h 11m 59s
Team SEB: 36d 19h 35m 47s
djuice dragons: 37d 05h 00m 53s
Amer Sports Too: 37d 11h 20m 12s

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