Yachting: Camper appeal decision against Telefonica

Skipper Chris Nicholson. Photo / Hamish Hooper
Skipper Chris Nicholson. Photo / Hamish Hooper

Camper Team New Zealand are appealing against the decision to dismiss a protest against Team Telefonica as they battle to get themselves back into contention for the Volvo Ocean Race.

The international jury decided the original rule over the number of sails allowed on board for each leg was ambiguous and that Telefonica were reasonable in assuming they were in compliance.

Camper have appealed against the decision, believing Telefonica gained an unfair advantage from carrying the extra sail on board for the fourth leg to Auckland when Telefonica finished third, less than two minutes ahead of the Team NZ boat.

Telefonica lead the Volvo Ocean Race overall with 147 points ahead of Groupama (127) and Camper (119). Camper were hoping Telefonica would lose points for their infraction and bring them closer to the pack.

Camper have had a difficult race so far. They made tactical mistakes in the first couple of legs, have lacked boat speed in tight reaching conditions and on the last leg across the Southern Ocean were forced to make landfall in Chile to make repairs to their bow.

Camper finished the leg in fourth, 11 days behind leg winner Puma.

"We were very disappointed and surprised that the jury took this action," Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said. "It seems unfair to us that we lost leg four by under two minutes to a boat that was breaking the rules and carrying an extra sail than us. It's the equivalent of a golfer carrying an extra club in their bag.

"The reality is that Telefonica were given a flawed rule interpretation by the organising authority. That was not communicated to other teams as required by the rules and were, therefore, able to sail with an unfair advantage during the leg.

"This is no dark art. There is hard evidence that the type of extra sail that Telefonica carried would have given them a performance advantage. That performance advantage could very easily equate to the 1m 33s margin that Telefonica beat us by into Auckland.

"The system has broken down and we are left with no choice but to pursue redress. I think it's clear and obvious what actions the jury needs to take to ensure a fair result in Leg 4. "We have nothing to hide and will be putting our case robustly to the jury.''

The international jury are due to hear Camper's submission tomorrow morning local time. The in-port race in Itajai, Brazil, will be raced on Sunday (NZT) and the fleet will embark on their journey to Miami the following day.

- APNZ

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