Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

Scallywag’s misconduct charge over ‘Dr Cloggs’ video dropped by sailing body

Volvo Ocean Race officials and rival crews praise decision to clear skipper David Witt and navigator Steve Hayles

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 5:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 10:50pm

A misconduct charge against David Witt, captain of Hong Kong’s Volvo Ocean Race entry Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, and navigator Steve Hayles has been dismissed by sailing’s International Jury.

The investigation came about after a complaint about a video posted on social media by the Scallywag crew in which they perform a mock radio skit. In the skit, the only female crew member, Dutchwoman Annemieke Bes, is dressed as “Dr Cloggs” and asked to give advice on how to treat “scrotum rash”.

There was mixed reaction from social media users, with some criticising the video in the wake of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse revelations, while others dismissed it as harmless fun.

The video, which has since been taken down, was made during the second leg of the race between Lisbon, Portugal and Cape Town, South Africa.

Hayles left the crew after arriving in Cape Town and was replaced as navigator by Antonio Fontes. His departure is not related to the misconduct probe.

Who is Annemieke Bes?

The jury’s decision was praised by race organisers and rival boat crews. Richard Brisius, president of the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “As race organisers we would like to thank the International Jury for its time and thoughtful handling of this case.”

The complaint was submitted by an outside party not involved with the race.

“I’ve seen the video and I think it’s unfortunate that this resulted in a hearing,” said Dee Caffari, the skipper of rival boat Turn the Tide on Plastic. “This case has shown all of us, I think, that the banter and jokes that are an essential part of life on board, don’t always travel well off the water.

“But to have singled out these guys for a charge when it’s clear that nobody on their boat felt offended in any way seems misguided to me.”

Watch the Volvo Ocean Race fleet leave Cape Town

The seven-boat fleet has already left Cape Town on the third leg – the 6,500 nautical-mile journey to Melbourne in Australia.

Mapfre won the second leg after finishing second in the first leg and were overall leaders as the boats left Cape Town. Vestas 11th Hour Racing are second ahead of China’s Dongfeng Race Team. Scallywag are sixth.

‘Face of the team’ Tiger Mok dumped from Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag in Volvo Ocean Race

Meanwhile, Hayes stayed with the crew in Cape Town and worked with Fontes before the start of the third leg.

“It’s been great to work with David and the rest of the Scallywag crew, preparing this project from the beginning and getting it off the start line,” said Hayles. “But I’ve decided to leave the boat in Cape Town.”

Fontes had actually practised with the Scallywag crew before being loaned to Dutch boat Team AkzoNobel for leg one because they had lost several crew members.

Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag hang on to claim sixth place in nail-biting finish to second leg of Volvo Ocean Race

Australian Witt, who sacked Hong Kong’s Tiger Mok from his navigator duties before the start of the second leg, said: “We’re sad to see Steve leave us. He’s been a great asset, with his experience, in getting us ready to compete with some of the best teams in the world.

“Now it’s up to Antonio and the rest of us to step our game as we head into the Southern Ocean and prepare for the leg home to Hong Kong next month.”