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Investec Loyal confirmed as line honors winner of Sydney-Hobart after protest dismissed

updated 8:32 AM EST, Thu December 29, 2011
The crew of Investec Loyal faced an anxious wait before their line honors victory was confirmed
The crew of Investec Loyal faced an anxious wait before their line honors victory was confirmed
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Investec Loyal's Rolex Sydney-Hobart victory confirmed
  • Protest by race committee dismissed by jury of appeal
  • Five-time winner Wild Oats XI finished second in close finish
  • Battle for handicap honors still to be decided

(CNN) -- Investec Loyal's line honors victory in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart ocean race has been confirmed after a protest by the race committee was dismissed Thursday.

A three-hour hearing of the International Jury at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania decided that the crew of the 100-foot super maxi had not received outside assistance during the 628-nautical mile classic.

The race committee's case had centered around a conversation between Investec Loyal's tactician Michael Coxon and a helicopter crew covering the race for Australian television.

Coxon had enquired about the sails being deployed by their rivals and five-time winners Wild Oats XI as they battled rough seas on the Bass Strait.

Official Rolex Sydney-Hobart website

Coxon is managing director of the company which made Wild Oats' main sail and was concerned that it would not stand up to the testing conditions without compromising safety.

Investec Loyal's skipper Anthony Bell said the jury had accepted his explanation of the incident.

"One of the things that they did take (into consideration) was that Michael Coxon's question was not to gain any advantage for our boat at all, but more to test how his business client's product, that they bought off him, was going," Bell told the official race website.

Following the hearing, Bell and his crew received their trophies for the line honors victory in front of a crowd lining Constitution Dock in Hobart.

"It is the long way around in some ways," Bell said. "It is very relieving to get to this point. There are rules in every sport and, while it wasn't ideal to go through this, I think that ultimately it gets beyond any question and whatever those questions that were asked have been properly answered."

Investec Loyal beat Bob Oatley's Wild Oats by just three minutes and eight seconds, one of the closest finishes in the race's history.

They had fought a tactical duel from leaving Sydney Harbor on Boxing Day until the finish over two days later.

It is an against-the-odds victory for us," Bell added "I am still waiting for one of my crew members to wake me up and say you're on watch!"

The remainder of the 77 survivors from the 88-strong starters are coming into Hobart in dribs and drabs with the handicap prize still to be decided.

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