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America's Cup- Is it Fair? Unprecedented bias towards the Defender

by Bob Fisher on 8 Aug 2013
Oracle Team USA training on the America’s Cup Course ahead of the Louis Vuitton Semi-Final Chuck Lantz © http://www.2007ac.com

Fairness has never been a serious consideration in the 162-year history of the America’s Cup, but what is currently in operation in San Francisco shows an unprecedented bias in favour of the defender that puts to shame the often one-sidedness that was handed out prior to 1983.

All of the telemetry of the challengers, when they are in action on the racecourse, is known to the defenders. ALL. Yet when the defenders use the same course, the telemetry from their two boats is a closed book to everyone except themselves.

Race Director Iain Murray explained that the telemetry was available when the boats were racing on the course in San Francisco Bay and that the challengers’ telemetry was made available to television for its coverage of the races and that all the syndicates had access to that, but when the two AC-72s of the defender were our on the course, they were not officially racing.

Yet this telemetry is available to the Race Officer, who, it seems, studies it for reasons of safety issues. REALLY? One openly wonders what possible use this can be for the Race Committee in terms of safety.

Meanwhile, back at the Oracle Team USA headquarters at Pier 80 (far from prying eyes), all the telemetry generated by the three defenders on the racecourse is carefully analysed by the defender’s technical team, providing it with insight of the performance of its possible opponent.

Perhaps Rod Davis, the Emirates Team New Zealand afterguard coach, has it right. He is reported to have said that if the defenders are worried by what they are discovering, it can only be to the challengers’ advantage, adding that if Oracle is worried at what it is seeing, it is all to the benefit of the challengers.

With everything, so far, pointing to his team being the eventual challenger, Davis must be laughing up his sleeve at the thought of the defender trembling in his den.


Sail-World:This issue was traversed in a far less succinct manner earlier in Sail-World. http://www.sail-world.com/NZ/Gladwells-Line:-Jury-backs-Defenders-over-Trials-and-Performance-Data/112813!Click_here to read.

Essentially the issue lies in Article 38.2 of the Protocol which says: As required by the Event Authority for media purposes, Competitors shall provide live, unaltered and un-skewed telemetry data from their competing yachts including but not limited to boat speed, location and heading, and true and apparent wind speed and direction. This data shall be provided at the same update rate as the data displayed on the yachts own instruments, or at 1Hz, whichever is faster.

The Protocol Article is clear that the data is intended for media purposes (such as Virtual Eye). But if that is the case why is the detailed performance data posted in a public section of the America's Cup website where it can be accessed by anyone, media or otherwise - including the teams and the Defender.

More significantly why is it essential to make available such a detailed level of data in the form of a series of Excel files - with readings at apparently several five times per second - which are clearly way beyond the needs of even IT savvy media. Of course, the double standard exists where images of the event are kept in a Media Only accessible site, the downloading of which is carefully controlled and restricted. Why isn't the Performance data 'as required .... for media purposes' treated in the same way?

You can see the Performance Data yourself http://noticeboard.americascup.com/Race-Data/!by_clicking_here

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