by Bob Fisher
Oracle Team USA training August 31, 2013, San Francisco
Oracle will lose the first two races it wins and the team will pay a fine of a quarter of a million US dollars for damaging the reputation of the America’s Cup and five sailors in the team have been named and shamed in the worst case of cheating ever in the event’s 162-year history.
Four of the five sailors are to be reported to their national authorities and to the world body, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) for committing gross breaches of the rules and for bad sportsmanship. Excluded from the reporting is Australian Kyle Langford whose testimony was honest, and the Jury did not doubt his integrity. The Jury accepted that it was unlikely that Kyle knew that adding weight to a kingpost was against the AC-45 class rules.
Dirk de Ridder, the first choice wing trimmer for Oracle Team USA, has been banned from all further participation in this America’s Cup. He was found to have given instructions to the members of the shore crew to add lead to the king post of one of the team’s boats knowing it to be in contravention of the rules, and then denied doing so to the Jury. He will also be reported to the Dutch national authority and ISAF.
Matthew Mitchell, a grinder in his fifth AC campaign who is also a rigger, is banned from sailing in the first four races of AC34. He will also be reported to Yachting New Zealand and ISAF.
Others involved are members of the OTUSA shore-crew. Bryce Ruthenberg is excluded from further participation in any way in AC34 and will be reported to the Yachting Australia and ISAF with the recommendation that no further penalties are imposed because of his full, frank and early admissions.
Andrew Walker is excluded from further participation in any way in AC34 – effectively sacked. He too will be reported to Yachting NZ (YNZ) and ISAF. Kyle Langford received a warning, and because of his truthfulness, will not be reported to Yachting Australia.
The International Jury’s findings come only four days before the Saturday’s first two races in the 34th America’s Cup and mark a significant change in the manner in which the competition is seen. Deliberate cheating has been uncovered and the sport does not take kindly to infractions of this nature.