America's Cup- Iain Murray - big changes to umpiring likely + Video

Two teams will take delivery of their AC45’s early next week

Over the past two days, the Competitors in the 34th America's Cup have been attending a Competitors Forum in Auckland.

Iain Murray, AC34 Regatta Director
A lot of ground was covered in the sessions ranging from clarification of the measurement process and AC72 class rule; the direction of the AC45 one design class rule; the draft racing rules for the America's Cup, including an electronic umpiring system; dates and possibilities of venues for the World Series; progress in San Francisco - including team bases and on the water activities.

Only one team attended by phone - all were in Auckland in person and were augmented by representatives from the International Sailing Federation and 'significant' Umpires.

A major move in the rules are has been the dropping of the smaller wingsail, which was always fraught with issues as to its use, and teams will now just sail with the single big 40metre tall wing. The upper wind limit of 33kts will stay in, however Murray says that sea state is a bigger factor than wind strength for the 72ft catamaran.

The Racing Rules have been simplified and electronic umpiring introduced after trials in San Francisco. Murray says that the accuracy is now down to 20mm and the Umpires for the 34th America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Cups will now operate from a booth ashore and communicate to the competitors electronically.

AC72 Wingsail Grid - shape control of wing sails
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It would seem that the days of penalty turns have also gone, which were always going to be very interesting at the top end of the wind range. Instead the Umpires will assess a penalty for the infringing boat and will drop them back so their advantage is lost and a punitive penalty applied.

Murray says the intention is to use only live TV images with lines overlaid over the screen. Quite how this works in reality remains to be seen, as the animation which has become an integral part of television coverage over the last twenty years, allows the viewing of the racing and incidents - including an upwind perspective which is not possible using helicopters mounted cameras.

From here, the first competitors will take delivery of their AC45's next week, and they will be delivered on an ongoing basis over the next few weeks with full racing trials taking place from late March, with the boats due to shipped to an unannounced venue on 20 May.