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America's Cup- Lack of time cited as reason for Oracle back-down

by Richard Gladwell on 24 Aug 2013
Oracle Team USA claimed that other teams "trespassed" on their AC45’s ahead of the Red Bull Youth series ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

Oracle Team USA withdrew their Application to the International Jury due to a lack of time to compile evidence, according to their Rules representative at the Hearing, Tom Ehman, who is also Vice Commodore of the Cup Trustee, Golden Gate Yacht Club.

Ehman stepped into the role normally taken by Oracle Team USA Rules Adviser, Richard Slater, who continues to handle day to day rules issues. Originally the Application was lodged in Slater's name, however Ehman was accepted by the Jury as the team’s representative for the Hearing

The Application stemmed from an incident, where Oracle Team USA claimed that team members of Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand had 'trespassed onto Oracle Team USA owned AC45 yachts in an attempt to gain information about Oracle Team USA'.

Oracle Team USA was given two days to prepare for a preliminary hearing by the International Jury. The purpose of that hearing was essentially to determine if there was case to answer, in which case the Jury would have issued further directions.

At the heart of the Application was whether the two teams had breached Article 37 of the Protocol governing the America's Cup which prohibits teams from gaining information on another team by a variety of means including an 'illegal act'.

It was initially claimed that the alleged trespass was an 'illegal act' and was therefore a Breach of the Protocol. However during the course of the Hearing it was acknowledged by Oracle Team USA that they did not know whether the 'actions complained of constituted trespass under California law or not'.

Many suspect that the action did not constitute trespass.

No photographic or video evidence was produced at the Preliminary Hearing, and under the Jury Rules of Procedure, Ehman would not tell Sail-World whether such evidence existed. However Ehman did say the 'the people were identified by name by one witness'.

Neither is it clear as to what information could have been gained by the Challenger team members, that had not already been canvassed by the Measurement Committee.

Further, had the team members found some new evidence at such a late stage, they would have laid themselves open to charges of planting evidence, which would have been an extremely serious matter. As would boat tampering.

The current status of the Application is that it has been withdrawn, 'but we reserve the right to re-lodge it if an when we thought it was appropriate.' Such a re-lodgment would require acceptance by the Jury if it was to proceed to further Hearings. Ehman would not discuss the case further, even though as withdrawn case it was exempted from the Jury Rules of Procedure, as a determined case, because they may decide at some time to re-lodge.

Prior to the Hearing Emirates Team New Zealand had issued a statement describing the Oracle Team USA application as 'laughable' and that their team members had been in the vicinity of the Oracle Team USA AC45's as they assisted members of the New Zealand team prepare their boat for competition in the Red Bull Youth America's cup Regatta.

The full Jury decision can be read by http://noticeboard.americascup.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/JN109.pdf!clicking_here

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