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MAPFRE - Volvo Ocean Race - Xabi Fernandez: "A disproportionate penalty for a simple administrative error" - Luis Sáenz Mariscal
The International Jury has resolved several protests in Itajaí. Among them one made by the Spanish team, who were penalised with two points on the general classification for not having been informed of repairs made on the previous leg. Xabi Fernández stated, “the international jury has declared that we had no advantage to our performance or speed with the repairs undertaken on board. It was just an administrative error and a little bureaucracy regarding the way a boat informs of any damage suffered and how it is repaired. We have been given a penalty for making the repairs, and the team does not agree with it. We feel it is completely out of proportion”.

Itajaí (Brazil), 17th April 2015

The resolution of a protest made by the Regatta Committee to the Spanish team for not asking for permission before undertaking repairs to an outrigger, and another to the bow, during the fifth and toughest leg of the race in the Southern Ocean, was published this morning.

The Volvo Ocean 65 class rule requires a team to immediately inform the Volvo Ocean 65 Class Authority (VCA) if a team considers a repair necessary. A report from one of the measurer’s Jack Lloyd (Race Director) led to the presentation of the protest which upholds that the Spanish team did not provide sufficient notice in the manner required about both their repairs. However, the International Jury has recognised in their report that the repairs undertaken by MAPFRE were not made to improve the performance of their boat. In fact they did not increase the boat speed, quite the contrary.

As Skipper of the next leg of the race Xabi Fernández explained in the skippers press conference, held this morning in Itajaí (midday in Spain), “it has been a tough day and quite a complicated one for us. Firstly, in the last leg we fought really hard, as we always have done. We had good conditions in the Southern Ocean but naturally with strong winds, and we had to push to the limit as the rest of the teams were doing the same. But I also think that we kept our safety paramount: that of the boat and the crew above everything else. When we have problems on board or we think we might have, we need to deal with them and find an immediate solution.”

“As off-shore sailors we have the experience and the duty to treat problems as they arise, to avoid unnecessary risks. I believe that this is an added value that we have as a team, one shared by all offshore sailors. You learn from experience and many problems and points lost in the past, and you are more prepared,” explained Xabi.

“I think we did the right thing: we found a solution to two problems which we had on board, and reduced the risks. We would do the same again a thousand times. I want to emphasise that this comes from being well-prepared and having experience, just like we were prepared in case we had to make an emergency stop in Ushuaia (Argentina). The last three or four times we have been there we have always had problems, and for this reason we had part of the shore crew on stand-by in Ushuaia with all the necessary material in case we had to make repairs.”

On saying this Fernández has affirmed on behalf of the team that he feels that the penalty is, “totally excessive because of the possible administrative error we committed”, and adds that “we will try to turn it around with our team and attempt to get back the two points that have been taken from us”.

“As we all know, the leg finishes are proving really close, four boats in under an hour in the last leg. We have fought really hard for each point, so to have two taken from us in this way, is too much and completely disproportionate in our view”, declared the Olympic sailing champion from the Basque Country.

“We have made a note of these bureaucratic procedures for the future, but do not agree with the solution which has been given in this case. We will keep fighting hard, but of course losing two points in the overall classification is a really big deal” concluded Xabi Fernández.

Photo : © María Muiña/ MAPFRE
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