I couldn't help but notice what appeared to be a black and a blue and white R44 (could conceivably be R66's) hovering over the lead boats after the start of the Sydney Hobart race. I'd eat my hat if either of the Robbos hat pop-out floats. They were quite a distance off shore, well over 10 miles at altitudes of perhaps 100-150ft AMSL. There were other aircraft there including Squirrels that DID have floats fitted.
What are the legal implications of the Robbos that far out without floats?
When you cover a boat race there is plenty of people watching, plenty of boats, obviuously means help is available. The bird might drown, POB will be saved. Some helicopters carry the cameras, most of them carry the rescue swimmers/divers.
Not on this boat race, all the choppers were either TV ships, or air working with photographers. The rescue birds are on standby at their bases. or at least they were, last time I flew this race was in 2000.
Wear a life jacket, carry a dinghy if there's room, otherwise the crew takes their chances. Never been a problem for the aircraft in all the years that helicopters have covered this race. But they have rescued a large number of boats in trouble.
I've done a few of those Hobart things (OK, 10 of them) and only once did an aircraft cause us issues and that was when a AS350 gave a spinnaker a shake when hovering very low and to windward of us. The wash from the spectator boats was far far worse chopping up the seaway.
I like all was always pleased to see the aircraft when miles out to see. It meant that A. Somebody was near (in spirit anyway) and B. You were going to be on telly! My favorite of course was Gary T in the ABC AS355. He often appeared in the early light or late in the afternoon.