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America's Cup- Emirates Team NZ/Luna Rossa deal gets a tick from Jury

by Richard Gladwell on 1 Jan 2012
Emirates Team NZ have substantially prevailed in the decisions handed down over their partnership arrangements with Luna Rossa © Richard Gladwell

The International Jury has answered the first of a two stage challenge to the joint development and training agreement between the two America's Cup teams, Emirates Team New Zealand and the new Italian Challenger Luna Rossa.

In a ruling released after Christmas to a series of eight, or rather nine, as one was in two parts, questions put forward by the defender Oracle Racing, the Int Jury has sanctioned most of the key points in the unpublished agreement which would have covered design and development.

The Defender, backed by one of the IT billionaire, Larry Ellison, posed ten questions to the International Jury citing a potential arrangement between the Defender and an unnamed training/development partner.

At the time of lodgement of the questions to the Int Jury, the Challenger of Record, Artemis Racing stated that they would withhold their specific questions of the Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ arrangement, until they had seen the Int Jury's answers to the Defenders questions.

The kicker for Cup pundits is that while the questions, posed by Oracle Racing, are paraphrased in the Decision, the Application on which they are based has not been publicly released. The error most make is to lay this Decision, over the also not publicly released details of the Emirate Team NZ/Luna Rossa agreement (a summary of which was given to the Jury), and then start drawing conclusions. Making an assumption and then drawing conclusions is a practice best left to economic theorists, rather than being applied to the labyrinthine world of America's Cup Rules and their possibilities.

A very careful read of the Decision, along with the Protocol, plus an extraction of the references to the questions from Oracle Racing, show that the questions put were probably based on a somewhat looser arrangement, than that contemplated by Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ. In a couple of areas the Itiwi agreement might have to be tightened, in regard to boat construction to allow both teams to build two boats each. Essentially there has to be an arm's length relationship between the teams. But the point missed by most is that you shouldn't have to be told what you can already see. And, when two teams are working out of a common base, there isn't a lot that can't be seen.

It is a matter of conjecture whether this game of cat and mouse was genuinely an attempt to clarify the rules that both the Challenger and Defender signed off, or whether it is an attempt to thwart the efforts of two teams who between themselves have reached several America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, and were themselves Challenger and Defender in the 2000 America's Cup.

Three of the Challengers, Artemis, Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa made submissions to the Int Jury. Emirates Team NZ also submitted a summary of their partnership agreement to the Int Jury.

In essence, the Protocol signed by Artemis Racing representing the KSSS (Royal Swedish Yacht Club) and Oracle Racing representing Golden Gate Yacht Club, allowed joint design collaboration between teams up to 31 December 2012, after which they would have to work independently.

The wrinkle in the Protocol uncovered by Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa was that while the teams would have been allowed to build two new boats, by working together in a particular way they could get more out of that provision of the Protocol than was contemplated.

By building two boats to an identical design and working against each other, the two teams would obtain vital design and performance information which could then be laid off to good effect with the development of their second boats, which would have to be developed independently.

In normal circumstances, a team would have the choice of building two identical boats and then refining that platform. Or more commonly, building two slightly different boats - with the second being the development of the first. The partnership contemplated by Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand would give the teams the best of both options.

The International Jury has given the all clear on most of the keypoints that are revealed in close read of the Protocol by Cup strategists.

The only limitations that have been imposed are a requirement that all the boats be built by independent construction teams, and that the crews cannot swap between boats. Additionally parts such as foils cannot be swapped between teams. The sharing of tooling is permitted.

These limitations are only a slight smoothing of the wrinkle, as the America's Cup has always been governed by strict 'constructed in country' rules - which require the boats to be built in the country of the challenging or defending club.

But oddly, the tooling for the construction of the hulls of an America's Cup yacht can be built in a country other than the country of origin. In other words, Cooksons as builders of the AC72's for Emirates Team NZ, could also construct the tooling for the construction of the boats for Luna Rossa, however those parts would have to be flown to Italy for the boat to be laid up in the moulds, by an independent building team working on Italian soil.

But the yacht does not have to be launched in Italy, and the hulls could be flown back to NZ, assembled, have a NZ constructed wingsail stepped and then sailed against Emirates Team NZ's new boat before being shipped to San Francisco in April 2013 in preparation for the start of the Louis Vuiton Cup in July 2013.

To see the full decision!click_here

SL33's ruled to be not Surrogates
In a somewhat unrelated decision, the International Jury has not surprisingly ruled that upon production of a measurement certificate stating that the SL33's used by Emirates Team NZ are 9.999metres long, that the catamarans used as a development platform by the Auckland based team, do not exceed the 10metre length restriction on the use of other similar, or surrogate, boats.

Emirates Team NZ put the initial question to the Jury, and there was no serious objection to the length overall being that of the hulls, however a delay in responding and needing an answer before 1 January 2012, has resulted in Emirates Team NZ being charged 5,000 Euros in Costs.!Click_here for the full decision on the SL33 eligibility.

Emirates Team NZ produced a statement from Ken McAlpine, a long-time and highly respected America's Cup measurer, stating that the length overall was the hull length and not that of the hull, plus add-ons. This view was accepted by the International Jury, who noted that Emirates Team NZ had already been sailing the SL33's for about six months.

Cup courses announced
The courses have been confirmed by the America's Cup organisers for the 34th Match and Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco. Essentially they will be the same configuration as those used for the America's Cup World Series - with a reaching start and finish and windward leewards in between. The course durations will be either 30 minutes or 50 minutes long.

To see the Course document!click_here

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