|Race 1 - 8th January||Club Cruising|
After the completion of the race, the Race Officer Simon James contacted two boats (HAFFIMAN and FORTISSIMO 8) to inform them that he had had several reports that they had not passed through the 'gate' at mark 4, as required by the course instructions (for Course 13).
The Race Committee lodged a protest against FORTISSIMO 8. In the hearing, the Race Committee was represented by Simon James, the race officer; FORTISSIMO 8 was represented by Fuda Yasuto and Matthew Brunner, who also acted as interpreter.
David Highett was one of three members of the race team on board the mark boat at mark 4. He said he had followed instructions by laying mark 4 in the position directed by the Race Officer, and then, by 'pipping' the mark on his GPS using the 'MOB' button, he layed off 110 metres in the instructed direction and anchored. He said he recorded DREAMTIME passing through the gate, and then as FORTISSIMO 8 passed outside the gate, judged and recorded the time she passed the line extension.
Mia Gillow from the boat POCO which passed through the gate after DREAMTIME said she saw FORTISSIMO 8 pass outside the gate.
Fuda Yasuto and Matthew Brunner said they never saw the Gate Boat but felt sure that as they passed within two to three boat lengths of mark 4, FORTISSIMO 8 must have passed through the gate. They said they followed close behind DREAMTIME, who would surely agree with their assertion that FORTISSIMO 8 passed through the gate.
The Jury asked why they had not brought DREAMTIME as a witness. The Jury then took the unusual step of allowing a representative of DREAMTIME to give evidence for FORTISSIMO 8 (usually, Parties to a protest must secure and have their witnesses ready at a hearing).
Rob Azzopardi, skipper and owner of DREAMTIME was found and kindly gave evidence. However the evidence he gave was that DREAMTIME sailed through the gate and he clearly saw FORTISSIMO 8, a few boat lengths astern, sail outside the gate. Matthew questioned Rob, suggesting he could not be sure the boat behind was FORTISSIMO 8.
The Jury decided that FORTISSIMO 8 failed to sail through the gate and did not, therefore, sail the course.
Sailing Instruction 17.8 allows the Jury to give a penalty other than disqualification. After receiving a submission from FORTISSIMO 8, the Jury decided that in light of the overwhelming evidence against her, and the unjustified inferences regarding the integrity and honesty of all the witnesses, that it would be totally inappropriate to give a penalty any less than disqualification.
FORTISSIMO 8 is disqualified.
International Jury: Bryan Willis (GBR)(Chairman), Hong Kit Lock (MAS), Leonard Chin (MAS), Gurvinderpal Julka (IND), Omar Kyaw (MYA)
11 - 16 JAN 2016
First Race Countdown158 DAYS 22 HRS 41 MINS