Volvo Ocean Race skipper fined over £10,000 for sailing wrong way up a TSS traffic lane

It doesn’t matter how good at sailing you are, or how big your boat is, you still have to obey the rules, Folkestone Magistrates confirmed at a hearing yesterday, Monday 2 July. Dirk De Ridder, skipper of the Volvo 70 race yachtMean Machine, was fined £6000 and ordered to pay £4,200 costs for going the wrong way up a traffic lane in the Dover Straits Traffic Separation Scheme in May.

Mean Machine was sailing from Portsmouth, UK to Scheveningen, Netherlands prior to taking part in a race. At about 1850 the yacht was seen slowly entering the South West lane on a heading of 055°t. She then proceeded for 6.5 miles in the wrong direction in the South West lane, contrary to Rule 10(b)(i) of the Colregs.

The yacht’s plan had been to follow the separation line/zone between the South West lane and Inshore traffic Zone very closely. Howerver, De Ridder failed to realise that wind shifts would cause him problems. Soon after gybing it should have become apparent to De Ridder that his course was taking him into the South West lane. Mean Machine passed close ahead of a crossing vessel before passing between two South West bound vessels.

Mean Machine was identified by a passing merchantman. Dover CNIS contacted the Mean Machine by radio. The yacht then altered course and crossed the South West lane at right angles as required by rule 10 of the Colregs.