Seeking to set the record straight
Published on January 24th, 2015
New Zealander Matt Mitchell has asked sailing’s governing body to investigate former Oracle Team USA teammate Simeon Tienpont for gross misconduct, the latest fallout from one of the biggest scandals in America’s Cup history.
Mitchell’s complaint with the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) alleges that Tienpont broke a racing rule and lied during a hearing prior to the 2013 America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.
Although Tienpont admitted altering a catamaran used in warmup regattas, he was allowed to sail in the America’s Cup match against Emirates Team New Zealand.
Mitchell, who was implicated by Tienpont during a hearing before an international jury, was suspended for the first four races. Another teammate, Dirk de Ridder, was banned from the regatta and Oracle was docked two points in the harshest penalties assessed in the cup’s 164-year history.
“It’s really just to get some justice out of the whole thing. The guy who actually did it, nothing happened to him,” Mitchell told The Associated Press on Friday (Jan. 23). “Simeon lied during the hearing and that’s the only thing that implicated me and caused problems for me. I never should have had an issue. I didn’t do it. The only thing the jury had on me was Simeon’s lie.”
Mitchell said it’s up to ISAF to decide if there will be a hearing.
“This will put them in a difficult spot. They want the music to stop. They won’t be keen to do anything. That’s why we made the issue public. It’s a little more difficult to sweep under the carpet.”
Tienpont is now with Italy’s Luna Rossa. A team spokesman said Tienpont would not be available for comment.
Mitchell, a 43-year-old grinder who’s been on three Cup-winning teams, was cleared by ISAF’s Disciplinary Commission on Jan. 8. He repairs boats in Auckland and hasn’t caught on with another team.
Mitchell has also sued Oracle Team USA for the $68,000 he spent on legal fees fighting the accusations against him. Oracle Team USA is owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, who isn’t named in the suit. – Associated Press, full story
ISAF decision – Yachting New Zealand decision – Matt Mitchell statement
More: Mitchell discusses the saga with Radio Sport in Auckland, New Zealand. Listen here.