Sydney to Hobart general runner-up Celestial launches protest in front of international jury

An international jury is considering a request by Celestial to re-examine the protests that cost the yacht the honors in the Sydney-Hobart race.

Ichi Ban was presented with the Tattersall Cup on Friday after rival Celestial was fined 40 minutes for breaking the race rules, relegating him to second place overall.

The jury will meet at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania in Hobart to consider reopening claims against the yacht by Ichi Ban and the race committee.

After a lengthy hearing, the jury ruled on Friday that Celestial had broken racing rules which stipulate that competitors must constantly monitor radio contacts.

He discovered that a personal locator beacon on Celestial was accidentally triggered Monday night in Bass Strait, prompting the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to alert the race committee.

Ichi Ban won the Sydney Hobart 2021 race after the race jury ruled in his favor.(Provided: Andrea Francolini)

When the committee couldn’t reach Celestial, they asked nearby Ichi Ban to make radio contact.

With no response, Ichi Ban set off flares that caught Celestial’s attention.

It was confirmed that the beacon had been accidentally activated and AMSA was ordered to stop the search and rescue planes.

The jury decided that the deployment of two flares temporarily affected Ichi Ban’s performance.

Celestial skipper Sam Haynes called the decision “very, very hard to swallow”.

Ichi Ban arrived in Hobart with his red protest flag raised, but skipper Matt Allen did not initially indicate if one would be accommodated.

A small red protest flag on a yacht with crew members on the deck
Ichi Ban waved his red protest flag as he arrived in Hobart.(ABC News: Rob Reibel)

“We always prefer to win on the water, there’s no question about it. But obviously the race committee protested the same protest,” Allen said on Friday.

“It is what it is. Sailing has many rules attached to it and it is important to follow them, especially those related to safety.”

Ichi Ban became the first yacht to win back-to-back overall honors in over 50 years, joining Freya (1963-65) and Love & War (1974, 1978 and 2006) as the only triple winners.

The last boat in the fleet, Solveig, arrived in Hobart at 8:40 a.m. (AEDT) on New Years Day after spending more than five days at sea.

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