“AIS was introduced this year as a mandatory requirement to improve the safety of the race… and the requirement to have it on was communicated in the various race briefings.”
A spokesman for Wild Oats XI has denied allegations that its AIS was turned off.
“There is no issue at all to answer for… the AIS was turned on for the entire race,” the spokesman said. “It was tested. There have been no problems with it whatsoever.”
However, following the race, Harburg said that his team were disadvantaged because they didn’t know where Wild Oats XI was for part of the race, while the other supermaxis knew where Black Jack was at all times.
“That has disadvantaged us and Comanche and we are very disappointed in that,” Harburg told the ABC.
However, Comanche skipper Jim Cooney, who finished in third place, said he would not file a complaint because all yachts have tracking data that is unrelated to the AIS and he could see Wild Oats XI from Comanche’s deck for most of the close race.
“I don’t feel disadvantaged or unfairly treated because the information about the yachts’ performance is fairly readily available,” Cooney said.
Adding to the drama was the fact Wild Oats XI had been denied victory last year after finishing the race in record time only to be stripped of the title after a time penalty was applied for coming too close to rival yacht Comanche just outside the Sydney heads at the start of the race.
Wild Oats XI, which claimed line honours for a record ninth time this year, said its win this year was particularly sweet.
Skipper Mark Richards said it was “a day of redemption”.
“Last year’s result was just so disappointing but today, whether people like it or not, it’s Wild Oats’ tenth time over the line,” Richards said on Friday, after finishing the race in one day, 19 hours, seven minutes and 21 seconds – 28 minutes ahead of Black Jack.
with Nick Bonyhady
Education reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald