30 December 2012 - 18:37 • 2118 views



On December 24, the Vendée Globe Race Committee officially filed a complaint against Cheminées Poujoulat after Bernard Stamm repaired his boat’s hydrogenerators off the Auckland Islands. What has happened since and what will the next steps be? 


In yacht races – just like in any other sport – a refereeing authority is in charge of enforcing the competition’s official rules and regulations as listed in the official sailing instructions. The French Sailing Federation (FFV) has therefore appointed three refereeing bodies made up of ISAF (International Sailing Federation) international judges:

- A Race Committee in charge of defining the race’s rules and regulations, directed Christophe Gaumont

- A Measurement Committee making sure the yachts meet the official measurement requirements at the start and at the finish, directed by Jean-Luc Gauthier

- An International Jury, the ultimate authority arbitrating disputes and claims, directed by Bernard Bonneau

The Race Direction is the eyes and ears of these three bodies, keeping them informed of everything happening at sea. In case of a litigious event, a competitor or the Race Committee can file a complaint and the Jury will then decide which sanctions may be applied to the involved skipper/boat.

Articles 11.2.2 and 11.2.6: 11.2 Penalty of redress decided by the Jury after a hearing
11.2.2 For a breach of a sporting rule established after a hearing, the penalty shall, without exception, be a time penalty.
11.2.6 Jury’s power of discretion
(b) For breaches considered to be serious, repeated or deliberate, the Jury may increase the penalty as far as disqualification.




In the case of Bernard Stamm, the Race Direction sent the race Committee all the information given by the skipper as he had dropped anchor off the New-Zealand coast, including the part where he tied his boat to another boat. The Race Committee then decided there was a suspicion of violation of article 3.2, informed Bernard Stamm and filed a claim to be arbitrated by the Jury.

What the official rules and regulations say:

3.2 Outside assistance and docking conditions (modification of R.R.S. rule 45)

During the event, a competitor cannot have any material contact with any other ship or aircraft. A competitor cannot be provided with any supplies in any way possible.
A competitor can put into port, mooring or anchoring by his/her own means but cannot receive any outside assistance, except for medical assistance strictly limited to the terms of the article 3.3 below. The competitor cannot dock or come alongside another boat.

Failure to comply with this article will disqualify the competitor after instruction by the jury.

How much has the complaint procedure progressed?

The Jury has been informed of the complaint filed by the Race Committee and is currently in the process of collecting extra information from, among other sources, the report from the Cheminées Poujoulat skipper. Bernard Bonneau and the four other members of the Jury – Ana Sanchez of Spain, Trevor Lewis of England, Jack Lloyd of New Zealand and Georges Priol of France - will then have all the elements they need to take a common decision (trough telephone, emails, Skype...) on the Swiss skipper’s case in the next few days. No appeal will be possible.