Finishing ninth, but in an act of good sportsmanship and recognising that his team was at fault, Irish skipper Richie Fearon handed over his race declaration stating that Cork was retiring from Race 4.“Taking the racing rules aside, I think that this was the only thing we could do,” says Richie. “We caused a significant amount of damage to Hull & Humber and we were at fault.
“Although we knew we would be retiring at the end of the race, we tried to race the boat as fast as we could on the way across and tried to keep pace with the guys ahead. I think in terms of number of days racing, we got in a day earlier than everyone else, so it was successful enough given the circumstances beforehand.”Following each individual race in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, the skippers and watch leaders are required to complete and sign an official declaration form confirming that they have complied with all of the racing rules.
Cork’s declaration form stated that they had contravened a rule in part 2 of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) and as specified in the RSS, they have retired from Race 4 for this breach of the rules.Clipper Race Director, Joff Bailey says, “Richie and the Cork team have stood up and accepted responsibility for the start line incident and retiring from the race was the only course of action open to them due to the damage that was caused. The Race Committee has accepted Cork’s decision to retire from Race 4.”
After 4,700 miles of ocean racing, the crew were delighted to arrive and were soon tucking into the cold beers and traditional Aussie barbeque laid on for them by the Geraldton Yacht Club.Before setting off from Cape Town, round the world crew member Michael Lewis, a 30-year-old engineer from Dublin, said that the Southern Ocean was the leg he was most looking forward to.
Michael says, “The seas weren’t as big and the winds weren’t as heavy as I was expecting but it was great fun and we had some great surfing conditions and got some good top speeds.”Referring to his team’s retirement from Race 4, Michael says, “Everyone knows what happened on the start line and we accepted from the start that we would be retiring at the end of the race. We caused a lot of damage to Hull & Humber and our thoughts are with them – we know how it feels to be sitting out there when everyone else is already in. We hope that they get in soon and when I see them I’m going to buy them a beer!”
The Southern Ocean race was a closely fought one for the eight teams that arrived in Geraldton on Wednesday 16 December, with only seven hours separating race winners, Team Finland and eighth boat, California. Spirit of Australia narrowly missed a home port victory, finishing in second place a mere 33 minutes behind the Finnish team. Jamaica Lightning Bolt took the final podium position, securing their second third place of the series.Cork’s crew will spend the next few days cleaning the boat and carrying out essential maintenance. On Monday she will be lifted for her mid-race refit when members of the crew will clean the bottom of the hull and apply a fresh coat of anti-foul to make her race ready for the remaining 21,000 miles. Once all the work is complete the crews will have time off to enjoy Christmas and New Year in Australia. The race will restart on Sunday 3 January when the boats will race up the Western Australian coast to Singapore and then on to Qingdao in China.
Looking ahead to Christmas, Richie says, “I’m going to head down to Perth with my girlfriend and her family which should be good fun. I’ll be getting back in time for Hull & Humber’s mid-race refit to give the crew a hand and help them get prepared for the next race. They’re missing out on a good part of the stopover and there’s no way of hiding the fact that we are to blame.”