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America's Cup- Old photo evokes design assistance claims

by Richard Gladwell on 14 Dec 2012
Emirates Team NZ’s Steve Wilson checks a backstay attachment point during load testing on October 27, 2012 Pierre Orphanidis/VSail.info http://www.vsail.info

The off the water pressure in the 34th America's Cup, clicked up a few notches today with an attack on the Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa co-operation agreement, which has already been the subject of one ruling by the International Jury.

The text, published on a major US sailing website, and elsewhere on the interweb, ran under photo of Emirates Team NZ's Wing Design Coordinator, Steve Wilson, pictured on board Luna Rossa's AC72, with the comment that Wilson was 'obviously helping them with a rigging issue. Two separate teams? Yeah, right.'

What the text omits is the fact that the image was taken on October 27, prior to the Luna Rossa launch, and certainly before the AC72 had been sailing. See full story and text by www.vsail.info/2012/10/27/luna-rossa-ac72-undergoes-load-tests/!clicking_here

Wilson was one of the co-founders of Southern Spars, back in 1987, and had worked for Team New Zealand in 1995 and 2000 and BMW Oracle Racing in 2007 and 2010.

Although no comment has been issued by Emirates Team NZ, or Southern Spars, on Wilson's involvement in the load testing session aboard Luna Rossa seven weeks ago, presumably he was involved as part of the hand-over process of the wingsail manufactured by Southern Spars to a design from the Emirates Team NZ design team.

To recap, Luna Rossa bought a wingsail and platform design package from Emirates Team NZ for an undisclosed sum, as the only way the Italian Challenger was able to make a late entry into the 34th America's Cup. The team is using its own foils and soft sails design.

The interweb text goes onto attack the propensity of Emirates Team NZ to lodge protests with the International Jury.

A count of who has lodged what revealed that ETNZ does lead the 'protest count' with four initiatives to the International Jury. Two of these were requesting interpretations, another was against a decision of the Measurement Committee. The team is also credited with two 'wins' in the Jury room, including the MC decision. Artemis Racing is next with three protest initiatives, the last of which was for a reconsideration of a previous Jury decision, which was declined, and costs of E10,000 were levied against Artemis.

Oracle Team USA has two initiatives to the International Jury, the same as Luna Rossa, both of which are ongoing. The America's Cup Events Authority has had one initiave to the Int Jury. Other actions covering the America's Cup World Series have been discounted. Both Luna Rossa's initiatives are ongoing (One against ACRM and the other against Oracle Team USA over so-called 'spying'.)

Claims that Emirates Team NZ would be using the Luna Rossa AC72 as a so-called third boat, were canvassed in a Int Jury decision stemming from an initial request for interpretation from then Oracle Racing.

The Jury's decision made it clear that the swapping of performance data between teams was illegal, this included crew sailing or participating in sailing on another team's boat. However practice racing between the teams was ruled to be within the ambit of the Protocol and had been widely practiced in previously multi-challenger America's Cups.

The Protocol only requires designer for the teams to be clearly split by January 31, 2013 - and even if he were assisting the Italian or any other Challenger/Defender without sailing on the boat, it would seem that any designer could interact with another team in a non-sailing role within this initial period.

Emirates Team NZ probably did not help their case in the final line of a media release issued on Wednesday when they stated 'the team would gain many of the benefits by race training with another boat through the arrangement with Luna Rossa.'

However the point remains that in 30 days of allowed sailing from July 1 2012 to January 31, 2013, the two teams have raced on only three days, the last of which was Wednesday, when maybe only one race was sailed.

Outside the rarefied air of the Jury Room, quite how much use comparative value such a limited program would be is a matter of speculation.

Additionally the Italians will be sailing alone until mid-February, and are expected to undertake significant changes over the next eight weeks, which would obviate most benchmarking done to date.

This design co-operation issue is not expected to fade in the coming months, but it would seem that the quote 'In war, truth is the first casualty' attributed to Greek dramatist Aeschylus in 450BC, is proving to be just as relevant almost 2,500 years later in the 34th America's Cup.

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