America’s Cup Approaching its Own Version of “Fiscal Cliff”

Published on June 25th, 2013

As predicted last week in Scuttlebutt by legal authority Cory E. Friedman, yet disputed by America’s Cup Event Authority CEO Stephan Barclay, the 34th edition of the America’s Cup could be on the road toward litigation.

The selection of the overpowered AC72, and the disastrous training accidents by both the defender Oracle Team USA (Oct. 2012) and the challenger of record Artemis Racing (May 2013), have initiated an effort to change the event rules to deal with the dangers of the boat.

The problem is that some of the changes might have been good ideas two years ago, but are now changing a race that has effectively begun. Here is a report from Reuters on June 25, 2013…

A lawyer for the Italian team competing in this summer’s America’s Cup sailing regatta in San Francisco said on Monday that he is prepared to go to court over last-minute rule changes that came in the wake of a fatal training accident in May.

The four teams competing for the cup have been meeting with mediators to reach agreement on 37 safety measures that Regatta Director Iain Murray and race organizers formulated after the wreck of an Artemis Racing catamaran killed Olympic gold medalist Andrew Simpson.

While there is broad agreement on most of the new rules, a fierce dispute has arisen over a change in the specification for a piece of boat equipment known as a rudder elevator, which helps control the super-fast, high-tech catamarans when they go airborne on hydrofoils.

“We’re prepared to do anything it takes to respect the rules,” Luis Saenz, general counsel for the Luna Rossa Challenge, told Reuters.

Legal action would take place in New York Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over the world’s oldest sporting trophy, and could threaten the July 7 start of racing.

Luna Rossa argues that the rudder elevators relate to performance and not boat safety. A report in a New Zealand newspaper indicated that Emirates Team New Zealand was also opposed to the rudder elevator change. Murray was not available for comment, and the other teams declined to comment on the rules. – Read on

More: Regatta Director Iain Murray explains that the purpose of the changes (listed here) is to increase sailor safety, and to satisfy the Coast Guard that it will be a safe regatta. The Coast Guard has yet to grant the event a permit to conduct the races. Full brief here.

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