Wild Oats XI could have avoided the protest hearing that cost them Sydney to Hobart line honours, says the skipper of new race winner LDV Comanche, Jim Cooney.
Wild Oats XI was sensationally hit with a one-hour time penalty on Thursday over a near collision between the two supermaxis early in the race.
After a marathon three-hour hearing, an international jury ruled Wild Oats XI breached the rules during a tacking manoeuvre in Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day.
Wild Oats XI had come from behind to finish a mere 26 minutes and 34 seconds ahead of LDV Comanche on Wednesday night.
But the added one hour meant their standings were switched.
Cooney said Wild Oats XI had the opportunity to complete two penalty turns when his crew flew a red flag on the water, signalling their intent to lodge a protest at the race's end.
"There was an immediate resolution available to Wild Oats, which was to just do penalty turns clear of the rest of the fleet," he told RSN radio's Breakfast Club this morning.
"They would have exonerated themselves of their mistake."
Cooney said Wild Oats could have then completed the race comfortable in the knowledge there would be no protest hearing.
"I didn't pursue the protest expecting it would overturn the race result," he said.
"That wasn't why I lodged the protest at all.
"We are talking about the two most significant supermaxis in the world ... boats at that level and crews at that level should understand, respect and abide by the rules.
"I think my action was purely to highlight that we all have obligations to keep ourselves and others in the race safe.
"It wasn't a race-winning tactic to go into the protest room. It was something that I adopted as a matter of principle."
It's just the third time in the prestigious race's 73-year history a yacht has lost line honours due to a penalty.
Wild Oats XI's Kiwi sailor Matt Mason fired a stinging attack on LDV Comanche yachtsman and fellow America's Cup combatant Jimmy Spithill.
"We reckon Jimmy's getting a little bit desperate for a win. But, anyway, he can take that, that's cool," Mason told the New Zealand Herald.
"We were confused that they gave us an hour. We thought the penalty, if we were in the wrong and did our terms, would have probably cost us five minutes."
Wild Oats skipper XI Mark Richards has vowed to cop the decision on the chin.
"We are very disappointed but I can see the jury's point of view," he told reporters moments after the protest was upheld.
"Everyone's a genius in hindsight. We made our decisions and have to live with them today.
"We'll get back up on the horse."
Matt Allen's latest Ichi Ban will be presented with the Tattersall Cup for overall winner at a ceremony on Friday.
Three yachts were meanwhile battling a winless River Derwent with the finish line in sight, with another 63 tracking down Tasmania's east coast.