Big Fella charged with Big Competition
Published on March 23rd, 2017
Intense competition is right at the heart of the America’s Cup. Throughout its 166 year history, the rivalries between owners, skippers, crews, yacht clubs, fans and nations have been some of the most intriguing facets of the competition for the world’s oldest sporting trophy.
Positioned in the midst of the fire is Iain Murray, aka Big Fella, America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) Regatta Director of the 35th America’s Cup.
Iain is an Australian, originally from Sydney, whose sailing résumé includes winning the 1973 Australian Cherub Championship title, six consecutive 18 foot Skiff JJ Giltinan Championships from 1977 to 1982, and winner of the 1984 Etchells World Championship.
His success led him to the America’s Cup where he was skipper of Advance in 1983, helmsman of Kookaburra III in 1987, Syndicate Head and Afterguard / Tactician of Spirit of Australia in 1992, and a key crew member of One Australia in 1995.
Iain returned to the America’s Cup in 2013 for the 34th edition in San Francisco, but this time as an event administrator. “ACRM has evolved over many cycles of the America’s Cup. In the 34th America’s Cup I was ACRM Regatta Director and CEO of that organization and in 2013 we had a big logistics role as well [as race management].
“This time [in 2017] our operation is much smaller, restricted to on water management activities and the racecourse. I was a little bit uptight about being continually questioned about my independence when ACRM was funded by the Defender so I changed it so the ACRM is totally independent.
“The big change is that ACRM is now independently owned by all of the teams, and funded by all of the teams, and that’s a change from what it’s always been in the past. My bosses are all of the teams.”
Here’s what that means in practice:
• The ACRM is responsible for managing and administering the sporting side and competitive rules of the 35th America’s Cup (other than rules pertaining to commercial rights and benefits managed by ACEA)
• ACRM is headed by the Regatta Director, Iain Murray, who was independently appointed by a majority vote of the Competitors. Iain has established ACRM in consultation with the competitors to serve as the entity responsible for overseeing the functions of the 35th America’s Cup Regatta Officials. The Regatta Director also chairs the Competitor Forum, where all competitors participate to discuss and vote on any rule changes or class rule amendments.
• ACRM is responsible for the on-water management of all 35th America’s Cup racing, including control of the race course areas as well as ensuring that all races are conducted in a fair, professional and timely manner. ACRM is also responsible for contracting and managing the race umpires, who make all on-water decisions about any infringements under the Racing Rules; as well as the measurers, who ensure that each competitor’s race yachts are rule compliant for all racing.