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Americas Cup- Emirates Team NZ want access to Oracle's speed data

by Richard Gladwell on 20 Jul 2013
Oracle Team USA two boat racing. Emirates Team NZ has applied to be able to obtain their performance data as is provided by the Challengers ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

Emirates Team New Zealand have gone to the International Jury to require the America's Cup Defenders, Oracle Team USA, to make public their performance data, now the team has commenced racing on the America's Cup course, on an exclusive basis.

The New Zealand team also seems to believe that the Defenders are not entitled to sail on the America's Cup Course while the Louis Vuitton Cup is being sailed.

The point of the questions appear to stem from some curious wording in the Protocol governing the way in which a Defender could be selected - with the Protocol talking on one hand of multiple Teams, requiring a Defender Selection series similar to the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Golden Gate Yacht Club have only one Team, and therefore no need for a Selection Series. On that basis the claim is that GGYC are not entitled to a use of the America's Cup Course during the race days of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Previously the Defence team, Oracle Team USA, had been training in the general San Francisco Bay area, not on the specific America's Cup course. The US team gained exclusive use to the area for an hour, more than the duration of a seven leg race, on Thursday, and sailed their two AC72's ahead of the Louis Vuitton Cup, triggering the questions to the Jury by Emirates Team New Zealand.

'We managed to get a good hour on the race course. It was valuable time before the challengers started racing in the afternoon. We had a few races, good training,' said Kyle Langford, Oracle Team USA wing trimmer.

The opening stanzas of the Application from Emirates Team NZ seeks to establish whether the in-house races are in fact a Defender Series in terms of the Protocol, and if so, then the Application's final set of questions ask whether the Event Authority, under Article 38.2 of the Protocol, would require the Defender to put its Performance data into the public domain, as is required of the Challengers.

Since the Louis Vuitton Cup has commenced in early July 2013 the performance data from Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand has been available in a visual form to the media and fans via Virtual Eye, a sophisticated graphics application http://virtualeye.tv/index.php/the-sports/virtual-eye-sailing!developed_especially_for_the_Americas_Cup by Animation Research Ltd, who are the world pioneers in this field, and have been involved in developing this application for the America's Cup since 1992.

The actual data itself is available freely one of the America's Cup websites, and can be viewed by http://noticeboard.americascup.com/Race-Data/!clicking_here

Currently with the Defenders able to conduct in-house racing - Defence Trials or otherwise, on the America's Cup Course, they are able to cross-reference their performance data against that already available on the Challengers. Their additional advantage is that they can sail just before or after the Challengers, so get a better bearing on the actual conditions on the day - even though the winds may change in strength or direction.

Another implication of the claim is that the Defenders are able to conduct a closed race session on the America's Cup course, while the Challengers are obliged to conduct an open session in terms of the performance data.



With the Challengers Performance data, in effect the Defenders can race their yachts against the Challengers on a computer, and gain a vital point of comparison as to their strengths and weaknesses on each of the Challengers. They could, for instance, check their speeds in a foiling gybe against that of the Challengers, and then determine whether they are ahead or behind their benchmark, ahead of the Match in September. If behind in any area, they have six weeks to try and close the gap.

Access to wind data co-related to the other performance data is of vital interest to a competing team, as this is information that they cannot obtain through permitted surveillance activities.

Under the terms of the Protocol Article 38.2 the Event Authority can require all teams - Defence and Challenger to provide performance data for media purposes: 'Competitors shall provide live, unaltered and un-skewed telemetry data from their competing yachts including but not limited to boat speed, location and heading, and true and apparent wind speed and direction. This data shall be provided at the same update rate as the data displayed on the yachts own instruments'

(The Event Authority is an entity established by Golden Gate Yacht Club to organize and manage the America's Cup Regatta.)

In other words all teams are allowed access to the performance data of Defenders and Challengers, via uses permitted for the media. Of vital interest is the data relating to windspeed and boatspeed, which would allow performances of the Challengers and Defenders to be mapped and accurately compared, rather than just being by observation as at present.

Online, currently there are seven data files, from the races sailed to date, that can be downloaded, and processed by anyone, including the competing teams, outside of http://americascup.virtualeye.tv/!Virtual_Eye. These cover performance information on the Challengers, but there is nothing from the Defenders.

All the above is a very long-winded way of saying that if the racing by Oracle Team USA on the America's Cup course during the Louis Vuitton Cup period is Golden Gate Yacht Club's Defender Series, then the their performance data has to be released into the public domain - same as it is for the Challengers.

If the racing is not a Defence Series, then Oracle Team USA are not entitled to sail on the America's Cup course, and they can legitimately retain confidentiality on their performance data.

But one thing the Defenders can't do is race on the America's Cup course, during the Louis Vuitton Cup and retain confidentiality on their performance data. And that is what is happening at present.

There's no Punch without Judy - even in the America's Cup.

No date has been set for a Hearing, which is expected to be handled on a documentary basis only in late July.

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