Confusion reigns over America’s Cup rules violations

(August 16, 2013) – Taking an abrupt jibe from its previous position, the America’s Cup measurement committee has absolved one of the three Oracle Team USA boats in a cheating scandal that has taken front stage in the regatta.

In a new report made public Friday, the committee said Oracle CEO Russell Coutts’ boat had not been illegally doctored in order to improve its performance in the America’s Cup World Series.

But it said that boats skippered by Jimmy Spithill and Ben Ainslie – who ran a British team called J.P. Morgan BAR- had illegal lead weights during the final four regattas of the warm-up series for this year’s America’s Cup.

An international jury is investigating the rules violations, which Oracle disclosed last week. At the time, Oracle was it was forfeiting its trophies from the four most recent ACWS regattas.

A racing expert familiar with the investigation said even if Oracle management had no knowledge of the illegal weights, “that still doesn’t exonerate the team.’’ He said Oracle bears some organizational responsibility for a blatant violation of the rules.

The new measurement committee report raised more questions, however. The measurers said they received initial word of the violations from Glyn Davies, an America’s Cup race management official, and Mark Turner, Oracle’s shore team manager.

In its new report the committee blamed “confusion in nomenclature, miscommunication and/or a misunderstanding on our part’’ for saying three boats were involved.

On the Spithill boat, the committee said, a 3.5-pound plastic bag of lead was found on the main kingpost. The kingpost is a tube-like vertical structure immediately below the mast under the main cross beam.

On the Ainslie boat, a 5.5-pound weight was placed on the forward king post, also known as the “dolphin striker.’’

It is not known when the jury will decide the case. It could sanction Oracle before the defender sails in the Cup finals Sept. 7-21.

Full report in San Francisco Chronicle.

Editor’s note: Another stunning and regrettable incident, particularly after the story got picked up by mainstream news throughout the U.S. Not only is one boat now deemed legal, the location of the lead in Spithill’s boat is now said to be in the main kingpost, where before it was said to be in the forward king post. Click here to read earlier comments by Russell Coutts.

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