Sydney. Supermaxi Investec Loyal’s thrilling win in the Sydney to Hobart ocean race was cast into doubt Wednesday, with organizers declaring an immediate inquiry into claims it received unauthorized assistance.
Garry Linacre, commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, said an international jury would on Thursday examine claims Investec Loyal asked a media helicopter crew what kind of sails rival Wild Oats XI was using.
“It’s against a racing rule of sailing, number 41,” Linacre told reporters, adding the official challenge was probably “as much of a shock to them as it is to me.”
Possible punishments include a time penalty or a range of other sanctions, and when asked whether Investec could be disqualified if found guilty Linacre said: “I would say that the answer to that question would have to be yes.”
“It’s a disappointing situation for me,” he added.
Investec crossed the line three minutes and eight seconds ahead of five-time winner and current record holder Wild Oats XI, but its line honors victory has now been deemed provisional.
Linacre said the committee had decided to lodge a protest against Investec late on Wednesday afternoon and a panel of judges from four countries would hear evidence and arguments from both sides.