Racer added 70 litres of water to rival's fuel tank

The findings of a Powerboat Disciplinary Board hearing held by the RYA in October 2006 have been upheld by the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel.

The Panel concluded that disciplinary charges brought against Fatboy powerboat racing team members Robert Lister and William Nocker were justified and that their disqualification from holding any offshore powerboat racing licence before January 2012 should stand.

The original charges followed an incident in Liverpool during the 2006 Honda Formula 4-Stroke Powerboat offshore series, when driver Robert Lister was recorded on CCTV as he interfered with the fuel tank of a rival boat. He and navigator William Nocker were disqualified from the event and called before a subsequent Disciplinary Board to answer charges of gross misconduct under Rule F26 and unsportsmanlike behaviour under Rule F32(j) of the RYA Offshore Racing Handbook.

Although Lister admitted to the offence when confronted with the CCTV evidence, Nocker denied involvement and claimed that his driver had acted alone in evading security patrols to enter the pontoon on which the rival boat was berthed and use a water hose to add 70 litres of water to its fuel tank.

Confirming the Sports Dispute Resolution Panel award, Arbitrator Charles Flint QC noted inconsistencies in the evidence given by Lister and Nocker as well as in their behaviour during the event itself. Evidence given by the pair also conflicted with a log of their mobile telephone conversations and text messages at the time.

Concluding that Lister and Nocker had indeed acted in concert, the written decision of the Arbitrator states: “There can be no more serious offence than sabotaging a competitor’s boat. The offence strikes at the heart of fair competition.”

Accepting that Lister and Nocker may not have intended to cause physical harm to their rivals, it nevertheless points out that sabotage, “?places the competing team in the way of danger because, unknown to them, their engine may fail at any time.”

Mark Osgood of Moore Blatch solicitors, who represented the RYA, said, “The Arbitrator had the opportunity to hear the evidence of all the relevant witnesses and formed the view that Mr Nocker and Mr Lister were acting together, dismissing their case that Mr Lister acted alone.”

Welcoming the judgement, RYA Powerboat Racing Manager John Puddifoot said: “The RYA Powerboat Disciplinary Tribunal reached its decision based on the evidence available to it and the gravity of the offences with which the members of the Fatboy team were charged.

“It has been a long and demanding process to pursue this case and the RYA has been called upon to meet its costs in doing so. However, the outcome is a victory for the stance we have taken and I am delighted for the powerboat racing community in general that it sends out such a clear warning that those who break the rules will be caught and punished.”