Rapid Nokia needled by red flags

The Danish-Australian yacht Nokia shattered the Sydney to Hobart race record yesterday but will have to survive at least one protest before it can claim official line honours in the annual bluewater classic.

The Danish-Australian yacht Nokia shattered the Sydney to Hobart race record yesterday but will have to survive at least one protest before it can claim official line honours in the annual bluewater classic.

The 60-footer finished the 630-nautical mile race in one day 19hr 48min 2sec, breaking the German maxi Morning Glory's 1996 record by 18hr 19min. Nokia's mark, if not overturned, will probably stand until the next time there is a powerful north-easterly from just the right angle for the big yachts.

A protest was lodged by the Sydney maxi Brindabella, which followed Nokia home. It may be joined by Marchioness, which finished in fifth place. Brindabella came in almost an hour behind Nokia, followed 28 minutes later by the Victorian state maxi Wild Thing. The two maxis were the pre-race favourites, but trailed Nokia for most of the race.

A race spokesman, Peter Campbell, said Brindabella's protest was "technical". Brindabella claim that Nokia breached rules by carrying too many crew members, given that it also carried ballast tanks to rapidly shift 2.5 metric tonnes of sea water from side to side, aiding its stability. The protest hearing before an international jury headed by Ken Morrison of Hawaii will be held today.

Nokia finished 76min behind the super yacht Mari Cha III, racing as a demonstration entry, but will probably return next year in the official fleet.

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