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Club remains muzzled amid team scandal

Published on August 14th, 2013

For America’s Cup historians, it is a sign of the times. When the trophy was held by the New York Yacht Club from 1857 until 1983, the blame for any misdeeds during their defenses was pointedly aimed at the establishment. But in this modern era of the Cup, the tail now wags the dog.

Golden Gate Yacht Club was not Larry Ellison’s first choice for his America’s Cup campaigns, but it was his best option to have a club that would not micromanage his program. And now, given the current scandal the club’s team faces, GGYC remains muzzled.

Tom Fitzgerald of the San Francisco Chronicle is following the story. Here are some excerpts from a recent report…

Oracle Team USA, the defender in the America’s Cup, could be in serious trouble. Having already admitted rules violations during the America’s Cup World Series, the team has been described by a Cup committee as having made “an intentional effort’’ to circumvent the rules.

Oracle’s chief rival directly accused the American team of cheating. “You can’t actually get to any other point than the fact they were cheating,’’ Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said in an interview. “I think it’s really serious.’’

A five-member international jury “could dismiss them from the event, which would hand the trophy to the winner of the Louis Vuitton (challengers) Cup,’’ said Bob Fisher, an America’s Cup historian. “Still taking a strong line, they could give the Louis Vuitton Cup winner one or more wins in the America’s Cup finals. It depends on how strongly the jury feels about it.’’

Dalton disputed Coutts’ contention that the weights didn’t affect the boats’ performance. “Why would you actually do it, if it didn’t make a difference?’’ Dalton said. “Properly placed extra weight does improve the performance of the boat,” he said.

“Because of the design (of the 45) you like the weight forward,’’ he said. That’s why “you put one guy really far forward to keep the bow in the water.’’

He called Coutts’ insistence that management didn’t know about the placement of the weights “complete nonsense.’’ He said he felt Oracle was trying to “snow” people with its explanations.

“It’s inconceivable,’’ Dalton said, “that a shore crew member woke up one morning and decided it was a good idea – that management would think it was a good idea – that to make the boat faster you would put some weight in the boat, and then you’d come in to work one day and do it.’’

At Team New Zealand, for example, if someone were to add weights or move them around, the team would run tests to see if it would help performance or not, he said. He didn’t buy the idea that rogue employees committed violations on their own.

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