34th America’s Cup - Final Match openning Press Conference with members of Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand; John Kostecki (tactician ORACLE Team USA), James Spithill (skipper ORACLE Team USA), The America’s Cup Trophy, Dean Barker (skipper Emirates team New Zealand), Glen Ashby (Wing Trimmer Emirates Team New Zealand)
The Media Conference to open the 34th America's Cup was a stunning affair.
Maybe my brain was still mush after what turned out to be an 18 hour journey from Auckland, plus getting only four hours sleep before making my way down to the San Francisco Waterfront and Pier 29(?) which houses the Media Centre.
Checking through accreditation was quick and efficient. Although it was task planned for yesterday, had the journey taken the 11 hours expected.
The Media Centre itself is an excellent facility, custom built, new and purpose designed for the event.
We arrived late, my son was with me, and the Media Conference had just started.
The opening questions were focused on the recent International Jury Decision concerning the measurement tampering by Oracle Team USA members.
Having had plenty of time on the flight, I had taken the time to read the full Jury Decision. Fourteen pages of it on just the Article 60 Hearings and about 11 pages on the Rule 69 findings and Recommendations.
It is an appalling litany of slow extraction of the truth, and even then one got the feeling the Jury had never really got to the bottom of the matter, but had seen enough and had to produce a Decision.
At the Media Conference Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill stuck to the team line that they were 'shocked' by the Decision.
That is a very courageous stance to take when three of your team-mates are under report by the International Jury to their home sailing bodies, Yachting New Zealand and the Dutch sailing federation. Two of those at least could have their incomes severely compromised as sailors facing suspensions from the sport.
'Sorry' might have been a better word to have used than 'Shocked'.
But Spithill stuck to his guns through out the half-hour media session, saying it was tough for the team to only know who was sailing with them four days before the event. That wasn't the Jury's fault, it was Spithill's teams fault. They were the ones who had delayed Hearing to get lawyers present. They were the ones who have had two team members reported by the Jury for not telling the truth.
As has been said in this commentary before, the team would have been better advised to make clean breast of it, get the matter out of the way and get on with life. It's a bit like getting caned at school. You very quickly learn that arguing that black is white only makes a bad situation worse.
Instead the denials continue, and this for five incidents which the International Jury reported in their typically understated way 'the seriousness of the breaches cannot be undertstated.' That is as bad as it gets.
The rest of the conference continued in a similar vein.
The word 'Sorry' was not mentioned. It would have gone a long way to removing the shadow that hangs over the the US team in the eyes of many. But from what we saw today, sadly that view is not shared by the team themselves.