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America's Cup- Illegal rudder move seems destined for Jury or Court

by Richard Gladwell on 25 Jun 2013
US Coast Guard talk with Luna Rossa - Francesco Cattani - External Relations Director Luis Saenz - General Counsel Capt. Greg Stump - Sector Commander San Francisco, USCG Max Sirena - Skipper Ellen Hoke http://www.ellenhoke.com/

Reuters news agency is quoting a rules advisor for the Italian Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 as saying they will take the contentious rudder elevator issue to court, unless AC72 class rules changes are unanimously passed by all Challengers as required by the Protocol governing the conduct of the 34th America's Cup.

Currently it is believed that the Defender Oracle Team USA has fitted and been using adjustable rudder elevators, since mid-March. These devices are currently illegal under the Class rules for the AC72.

A change proposed as a result of the safety review conducted after the fatal capsize of Artemis Racing's first AC72 on May 9, 2013.

This change would allow the rudder elevators to be adjusted until the warning signal of a race. Last August the Measurement Committee for the America's Cup Regatta ruled that rudder winglets could not be adjusted, and if they were moved after measurement, then the boats' measurement certificate would be invalid.

At least two of the Challengers for the 34th America's Cup are against legalisation of the rudder elevators which make the AC72 easier to control when foiling, however the Italians and New Zealanders have had to spend a lot of time and effort in devising ways of foiling within the AC72 class rules, and are opposed to a rule change bought in arbitrarily.

'We're prepared to do anything it takes to respect the rules,' Luis Saenz, general counsel for the Luna Rossa Challenge, told Reuters.

'The class rule doesn't contemplate rudder elevators at all,' Saenz said. 'We think they have nothing to do with safety. They are a performance instrument, and we do not believe the regatta director should get into regulating rudder elevators.

'The regatta director has all the right in the world to issue recommendations. He cannot change the class rule.'

First recourse is expected to be an application to the International Jury, but if America's Cup organisers act pre-emptively, or the US Coast Guard institutes the change to the AC72 Class rule as part of its Permit for the America's Cup Regatta, then action to the New York Supreme Court is likely.

Worst affected by the move are the Italian team, Luna Rossa, who started in to the 34th America's Cup later than the other teams, and purchased a design package from Emirates Team NZ to catch up.

the Italians have a large design team and have substantially modified their boat, they are only taking delivery of a new set of daggerboards this week.

Had they known that the AC72 class rules were being altered to permit rudder elevators, then they would have been able to also test their own designs. But with the Challenger Series due to start in just over 10 days, there is no development time left.

Similar rules to those governing rudders and winglets govern the curved daggerboards used as hydrofoils by the AC72's. If adjustable elevators of the type used by Oracle (which are standard on most foiling yachts), then it is a logical progression to use the same technology on the daggerboard and fit that with adjustable winglets as well as the rudder.

But due to a lack of development time, clearly this won't happen in the 34th America's Cup.

The report can be read by http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/25/uk-sailing-americascup-rules-idUKBRE95O01T20130625!clicking_here

Earlier today, America's Cup.com published an interview with Regatta Director Iain Murray on the changes he is recommending to the US Coast Guard. These were discussed for four days in a mediation session, conducted by two members of the International Jury. While agreement was reached on many of the 37 Recommendations, the issue of legalisation of rudder elevators was not agreed by all the teams, as prescribed by the Protocol.

Further the Review Committee, while necessary has no standing under the Protocol either. Nor is there any provision for the Regatta Director to act unilaterally on a matter involving a Class Rule change - such issues must be referred in the first instance to the International Jury.

Murray correctly did this to establish the Mediation process. Given that has failed to reach complete agreement, he is expected to make an application to the International Jury to resolve the outstanding issues.

The report from America's Cup.com is as follows:

In the wake of the Artemis Racing capsize last month, Regatta Director Iain Murray has been charged with ensuring the racing this summer is as safe as possible.

After convening an expert review panel that interviewed more than two dozen sailors, designers, shore crew and engineers, Murray issued 37 Safety Recommendations. These have been included in an application for a Coast Guard Marine Event Permit, a permit that is necessary to conduct races on San Francisco Bay this summer.

To learn what happens next, we spoke to Iain Murray on Monday afternoon at the America’s Cup Race Management base in San Francisco.

He started by reflecting on what’s been happening since the Artemis Racing tragedy.

'The America’s Cup has been through a rough period in the last two months,' Murray said. 'But we’re all working now towards a safer and better America’s Cup.'

AC.com: After four days of mediation with the International Jury and teams, why weren’t you able to get unanimous agreement on the Safety Recommendations?

Murray: The teams support increasing safety and the teams support all but one or two of the Safety Recommendations. But these are competitive racing teams and a couple of them are struggling with one or two specific points. I’ve been a competitor in the America’s Cup before and I know what’s at stake. For the record, not one of the teams is 100% happy with how all 37 recommendations affect them. But at the end of the day, safety means safety for everyone.

AC.com: Are you comfortable with the changes you’re recommending?

Murray: My job as Regatta Director is to stand back and take a bigger view. The safety recommendations were made in isolation and without influence from any stakeholder (team, sponsor or event) but after considerable consultation with the teams and sailors. I believe all 37 of these Safety Recommendations, which were handed down to all parties simultaneously on May 22, are important and necessary.

AC.com: What is the process that has to take place between now and the first day of on-the-water activity on July 5th?

Murray: The application to the Coast Guard for our Marine Safety Permit for the event includes my original 37 Safety Recommendations. We have expanded on how these general recommendations will become specific parts of the event documentation needed to obtain our Permit and then put it into effect.

AC.com: Will this involve changes to the Protocol, AC72 Class Rule and Racing Rules?

Murray: Yes. By attaching the Safety Recommendations to the application for the Coast Guard Event Permit, we are complying with the Coast Guard request that we have a thorough safety and management plan for the event.

AC.com: Is it possible, to make changes to these America’s Cup rules without the full agreement of all of the teams?

Murray: We’re probably taking an unprecedented step, but after the Artemis Racing tragedy, it’s a necessary step. Safety isn’t something we can compromise on. A man lost his life and we need to ensure, as much as we can, that it doesn’t happen again. We need to make changes.

AC.com: Why are these changes necessary?

Murray: We have to satisfy the Coast Guard that we can run a safe regatta this summer and the Safety Recommendations and rule changes are part and parcel of that. We have worked hard over the past few weeks to bring the teams together to agree on the specific rule changes and we have made a lot of progress. There are only a couple of items where, for competitive reasons, the teams can’t find common ground. But I won’t let those natural competitive instincts derail the process.

AC.com: Will the teams accept this or will there be a protest to the International Jury?

Murray: I can’t answer that. Time will tell whether they exercise that option. But I would hope they step back for a moment, as I have, and see that these are necessary changes. These changes haven’t been made to pick favorites. They have been made to enhance safety for everyone.

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