Sailing: Jury rules against Conner's protest

Dennis Conner's claims against his old colleague Paul Cayard were thrown out in Auckland yesterday. It took an international jury less than 90 minutes to decide that a protest that Cayard had broken the rules on the fourth leg of the Whitbread race from Sydney to Auckland was invalid.

The protest was about whether Cayard had failed to switch on his navigation lights at dusk on the last evening of their 1,270-mile leg as the fleet neared the northern tip of New Zealand.

But the jury's decision centred on a technicality. It was the responsibility of Conner's Toshiba to inform Cayard's EF Language that she intended to lodge the protest. There was no record of EF Language having received a message sent by the Saturn C satellite, although the race committee did receive a copy of the message. Instead there was an error message on Toshiba's computer indicating that the message was "delivery not confirmed".

The jury felt that as no further action was taken to ensure receipt or verbal communication made to advise EF Language, the protest was invalid.