America’s Cup: Kiwis stunned by Oracle rules infraction

Published on August 9th, 2013

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The America’s Cup challenger Emirates Team New Zealand issued this response regarding the discovery that the Oracle Team USA had made modifications to their AC45s that were not approved by the measurement committee…

(August 9, 2013) – Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton says he is stunned by revelations that Oracle Team USA AC45 yachts competing in the four America’s Cup World Series regattas were illegal.

Dalton said today: “I find it difficult to believe that what we learned last night actually happened at the top level of our sport.”

On July 26 boat builders who were preparing the AC45 yachts for the Youth America’s Cup regatta reported that the forward kingpost on one yacht was unusually heavy.

The Measurement Committee inspected the kingpost which appeared to be ”filled with a resin/ballast slurry of some type”.

Subsequently, OUTSA construction manager Mark Turner confirmed that, “based on interviews, the three AC45s maintained by the team had been modified in a similar fashion – the other two by the insertion of bags of lead shot into the kingpost.”

The yachts were Ben Ainslie Racing, which was on loan from Oracle and maintained by them, Oracle Racing Spithill and Oracle Racing Coutts.

On August 5, Regatta Director Iain Murray protested to the Jury alleging breaches of the AC45 class rule based on the measurement committee’s report. A day earlier OTUSA had filed a report to the Jury related to these matters.

On August 7, Ben Ainslie Racing withdrew from ACWS regattas held at San Francisco in August and September 2012 and at Naples in April this year.

In an email Ainslie said: “As skipper of the boat I had no knowledge whatsoever that the boat was being raced out of measurement. I am deeply disappointed by this incident and will do all I can to assist the relevant parties in any further investigations.”

The following day OTUSA followed suit with the addition of the Newport, Rhode Island, regatta in June 2012.

The Jury has ordered the regatta director to re-score the regattas and the season championships in both years. OTUSA and BAR have 14 days to return all prizes, awards and trophies.

The Jury has started an investigation under Rule 69 of the Racing Rules of sailing (America’s Cup Edition) and Protocol Article 60. This investigation is continuing.

Rule 69 deals with gross misconduct capable of bringing the sport into disrepute. Protocol article 60 is aimed at protecting the reputation of the America’s Cup by prohibiting conduct that is prejudicial and detrimental to the America’s Cup and the sport of sailing.

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