The 75th Sydney to Hobart has delivered a pre-race controversy. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP
The 75th Sydney to Hobart has delivered a pre-race controversy. Picture: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

Sydney-Hobart radio ruling angers skipper

THE Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has stressed the importance of use of high-frequency radios in the 75th annual Sydney to Hobart race, following criticism from a senior skipper this week.

A yacht will be unable to continue in the race if it is unable to demonstrate it has a working high-frequency radio at Green Cape, on the far south coast of NSW, according to race regulations.

On Christmas Eve, SHK Scallywag skipper David Witt described the ruling as outrageous and said it showed no common sense.

At other reporting points during the race, the fleet will have the option of using a satellite phone.

However, at Green Cape they can only use the High Frequency (HF) Single Sideband (SSB), otherwise they will be disqualified.

Witt said bushfire smoke across NSW had affected the HF SSB system and a request to use satellite phones as a potential back-up had been rejected.

"(If) people get disqualified out of this race, you'll find an owner not want to spend any more money in the sport, so it's completely counterproductive and in my opinion just zero common sense," Witt said.

Just a few hours before the start on Boxing Day, the CYCA issued an email clarifying why the race committee deemed it mandatory for yachts to report in by HF radio at Green Cape

"The main reason why HF functionality is required before a yacht enters Bass Strait, is to ensure it has the ability to broadcast and receive emergency messages to a wide range of listeners, including other yachts in the race which might be in a position to render faster assistance," the email said.

"This is particularly important in a mass emergency situation where several boats might need assistance, and HF is the advised preferred option for Search and Rescue authorities that support the race.

"The race committee maintain other factors, such as the time of day and routine weather patterns, will likely more impact on high frequency communications than smoke from bush fires.

"The committee says phones are not a suitable alternative to high frequency radio due to the lack of a mass broadcast functionality."

News Corp Australia

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