I hope you like today’s piece of art contributed by an anonymous SailJuice fan. Today the high rollers from
Grant Simmer was simmering, not to say seething, when he walked out of the jury room after today’s mammoth hearing over what appeared a pretty trivial matter. Alinghi had won the protest, the Kiwis lost it, but to judge by the looks on the faces of Grant S and his grinning rival Grant D, you could have been forgiven for thinking the decision had gone the other way.
The Kiwis might have lost the protest, but they had tied up three of Alinghi’s sailors for more than five hours of soporific toing and froing between the two sides, while Dean Barker was sitting up at the swanky Foredeck Club just a hundred metres away, enjoying a couple of glasses of wine with his luncheon. So it was protest lost, but job done, as far as the Kiwis were concerned.
It all centred around some TV footage of Alinghi bowman Pete Van Niewenhuyzen who was raised to the top of the mast to fix a halyard after SUI 100 crossed the finish line yesterday. The Kiwis filed the protest after watching TV footage of one of the customary post-race measurement checks. The measurers asked both teams to lower their mainsails, without the assistance of a man aloft, to demonstrate compliance with ACC Rule 31.6.
The Kiwis lowered the mainsail without a man aloft, to the satisfaction of the measurers. The Alinghi team asked the measurer who had boarded SUI 100 if they could raise a man up the mast to fix a halyard (which wouldn’t be put under tension) to the mainsail, for safety reasons, to prevent the sail from being damaged if it came down uncontrollably. The measurer on board agreed to this request.
However, one interpretation of the TV footage of Van Niewenhuyzen could be that he gave the head of the mainsail a good kick just as the halyard lock was being released. A more charitable interpretation would be that in the rolling seaway the bowman was being thrown around, and that he was simply flung into the mainsail.
Clearly at least one member of Bryan Willis’s Jury was dissatisfied with the outcome, as the protest was dismissed by a majority – not a unanimous – decision. “This is not a clear cut case,” Grant Dalton said. “The fact that the Jury did not reach a unanimous decision points to that.”
The Jury left it to the discretion of the Measurement Committee to take “appropriate steps to satisfy itself” that yachts are in accordance with the Class Rule. “That means the Committee can have another look, if it chooses, at what we all saw on the television coverage yesterday,” said Dalts, the sly old fox.
Today was a huge distraction for Alinghi, who appeared to rise to the bait, but tomorrow’s forecast for a strong, steady sea breeze gives the Defender an excellent opportunity for revenge – provided SUI 100 proves as unstoppable as the hype around this boat.