Telefonica has preserved their commanding lead at the head of the round the world yacht race after an international jury threw out a protest against its use of sails.

The case arose out of the number of storm jibs Telefonica carried on the fourth leg from Sanya to Auckland.

The case was heard in Itajai, Brazil, overnight with the Volvo Ocean Race into preparations to depart on the sixth leg to Miami on Monday.

The jury decided the rules were ambiguous and no penalty was handed out to Telefonica, who have a 20 point lead with four legs of the race to sail.

The case centred on the wording of the rule which states each team must carry one such sail and whether that should be regarded as a minimum number or a maximum number.

Telefonica were originally told that the one storm jib rule was a minimum number, and therefore they could sail with two storm jibs plus the other sails allowed under the rule without going over the maximum number of 10 sails in all categories.

Later, the Race Committee emailed the teams a different interpretation, saying an extra storm jib must be counted among the headsails.

That led to allegations Telefonica had one too many headsails on leg four, even though they were within the maximum number of total sails.

The jury found that Telefonica had sought clarification over the rule and that, at the time, they were in compliance. The jury decided the later interpretation should not be applied retrospectively.

International judge Bernard Bonneau said: "The decision we made for quite clear for us. We found that there was an ambiguity in the rules. Protest dismissed."

Telefonica finished third on the leg into Auckland and then completed a determined second-place finish on the fifth leg, overcoming a pit-stop at Cape Horn to check bow damage and forge on to secure enough points to maintain its stranglehold on the overall race.

Meanwhile Abu Dhabi arrived in Itajai on a container ship from Chile overnight after being forced out of the last leg with major hull damage.

Its shore crew faces trying to do a five-day repair job in a couple of days to get the boat ready for Sunday’s in-port race and the start of the next leg the following day.
Points after 5 of 9 legs

Telefonica 147

Groupama 127

Camper 119

Puma 113

Abu Dhabi 55

Sanya 25

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