Stamm's Vendée DSQ: fair or unfair?

Bernard Stamm, Cheminees Poujoulat - 2012 Vendee Globe
© Bernard Stamm / Cheminées Poujoulat
What on earth do you make of the startling news today that Bernard Stamm has been disqualified from the Vendée Globe for receiving help when his anchor was dragging at his repair stop in Auckland Island? It's a decision that follows the letter of the rules of this race, but feels incredibly harsh.

Fearing for your safety and that of your boat, would you have done anything differently?

Yet the rules are absolutely clear. No assistance is allowed. So the race committee's decision feels, bizarrely, both fair and very unfair.

Part of me thinks the statement that a crewman from the ship crew came on board uninvited and began pulling up the anchor unseen by Stamm is odd. Can you imagine that happening on your boat, never mind one so complicated at the front end as these, with a bowsprit and bobstay to contend with?

Yet when things have to be done in a hurry and there's a situation to save, who's to judge?

The disqualification feels incredibly harsh when you put it in context of what happened to Stamm during the last Vendée Globe in 2009, when his boat was driven ashore and severely damaged in the Kerguelen Islands.

He had sought shelter there to make repairs after the failure of rudder bearings. The wind was so strong he wasn't able to motor on to a mooring and somehow was driven ashore - any skipper's nightmare scenario. It must have appeared horribly like history repeating itself.

What I wonder is exactly how small an act of assistance it would take to risk being thrown out of the race? Even if no-one had helped Stamm weigh anchor, presumably someone on board made fast the line from Stamm's boat. Does that count as well?

Full story: http://www.yachtingworld.com/blogs/elaine-bunting/533360/stamm-s-vend-e-dsq-fair-or-unfair