by Bob Fisher
What was billed as a 'Press Briefing' with the Technical Director of the ACC Rule, Ken McAlpine, attracted many more of the syndicate lawyers and a broad swathe of the hierarchy of Luna Rossa, together with a handful from the design teams, than the interested journalists.
'That was not a television story,' was overheard as the briefing broke up.
Quite naturally, McAlpine was guarded in his answers, but when asked if a loophole existed, he spoke categorically: 'There is no loophole.' Subsequent questioning about the Public Interpretation No 22 was countered with Plain 'Yes' or 'No' answers, even one that sought to find an answer to a question of naval architecture about stored energy being utilised to improve the efficiency of a keel.
McAlpine was the model of diplomacy – as Technical Director he has to observe the confidentiality of all matters, and this he achieved to perfection. He has to preserve the anonymity of those who seek interpretations, even after the interpretations have been made public. And from April 1st 2006, all interpretations are mandated that way.
What was apparent was that the Measurement Committee has no intention of allowing any anomalous structure that would give any team an unfair advantage and that this body was aware of what the questions were leading to that brought Interpretations 22 & 23. 'We were satisfied that the questions were clear and that we were not being led down the garden path,' said McAlpine.
The integrity of the ACC Rule has not been breached. There will not be a canting keel boat in the 32nd America’s Cup, not even one whose keel is linked to its mast. 'Boats are not allowed to use the sideways deflection of the mast to affect the keel,' were McAlpine’s last words on the subject.
You ain't seen nothing yet
Thursday April 19th 1415 CET: The starting gun should have fired to start the seventh flight match between BMW Oracle Racing and Areva, but instead the Answering Pennant hangs limply from the Committee Boat on the North Course. The sea is a glassy calm and the prospects for any racing look bleak.
And you cannot believe the weather forecasters. In the Morning Briefing, a daily produced document, it states: 'Change in direction of gradient breeze towards the north should allow a gentle sea breeze to develop 6-8 knots. Cloud cover may increase from the south through the afternoon.' Why, therefore, was it totally overcast this morning and the skies are now crystal-clear?
1515 CET: There are tiny, tiny, tiny ripples on the surface of the sea on both courses, but not enough breeze to blow away the cobwebs. The waiting game continues . . . and continues: 1615 CET: Activity! 'They’re thinking about it on one course!' came the cry, but thinking was all that was being done. 1705 CET: All racing abandoned for the day.
Maybe tomorrow . . . maybe.