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Investec Loyal's slight lead protested

12-29-2011 16:59 BJT

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Australian supermaxi Investec Loyal’s thrilling Sydney-Hobart win on Wednesday is under threat after a protest was lodged claiming its crew asked a media helicopter pilot to spy on rival yacht Wild Oats XI during the 680 nautical mile race.

The protest says that an Investec Loyal crew member asked a media helicopter pilot whether Wild Oats XI was using a tri-sail as the two boats sailed down the Australian east coast off the fishing town of Merimbula on Tuesday morning. Under yacht racing rules such a request could be viewed as outside assistance.

Australian supermaxi Investec Loyal (R) beats Wild Oats XI (L) to the finish line at
the 67th Sydney to Hobart yacht race on December 28. Investec Loyal celebrated in
earnest Thursday after an international racing jury upheld its line honours victory
over Wild Oats XI

If the protest is upheld, skipper Anthony Bell’s Investec Loyal yacht could be disqualified or face a time penalty. In the closest finish in 28 years, Investec Loyal covered every move from Wild Oats XI to cross the line first, taking two days, six hours, 14 minutes and 18 seconds to finish the race, well outside the record of one day, 18 hours and 40 minutes.

An international yacht racing committee will hear the protest on Thursday, meanwhile, Investec Loyal has been declared provisional winner, crossing the line only minutes ahead of Wild Oats XI.

Anthony Bell, Investec Loyal skipper, said, "This team is an amazing team of individuals, we raise money for charity, we bring with it a sporting element we bring an element of newcomers to sailing and of course to achieve an outcome in what we think is the greatest race in yachting in the world like that one and to get a letter saying that your win will not be confirmed until 10 tomorrow when you attend a protest committee is of course going to be anticlimactic. Again I would like to stress as knocking down as that is one thing that can not be taken away from us no matter what happens, no matter what is said is we sailed one hell of a race out there, we did everything by the book the whole way along."

Anthony Bell (C), skipper of Investec Loyal, talk to the media after taking
provisional line honours in the Sydney to Hobart race on December 28. It was the
fourth-fastest result in the race's 67-year history, and a sweet victory for Bell,
who was runner-up in 2010 and long a rival of Wild Oats


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