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America's Cup- Two Challengers haul Regatta Director in front of Jury

by Richard Gladwell on 28 Jun 2013
Oracle Team USA testing in San Francisco earlier this week Guilain Grenier Oracle Team USA © http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/

Emirates Team New Zealand have confirmed that they will be lodging an Application with the International Jury concerning the actions of the Regatta Director, who they claim has exceeded his authority in implementing his Recommendations following the safety review.

The full statement from Emirates Team New Zealand reads:

Emirates Team New Zealand confirms its intention to file a protest with the America’s Cup Jury seeking a ruling that the Regatta Director has exceeded his jurisdiction in seeking to unilaterally introduce changes to the AC 72 Class Rule.

The recommended changes relate to additional weight of the yachts and rudder elevators.

The team says that changes to the rule so close to the start of racing require the unanimous consent of all eligible competitors.

The proposed changes relate to two of the Regatta Director’s 37 safety recommendations issued on the 22nd May 2013 following the Review Committee’s report after the capsize of Artemis Racing.

Emirates Team New Zealand supports all the other safety recommendations, which have now been approved by competitors, including the reduction of wind limits and various new rules to ensure enhanced crew safety. However it is our view that the contentious Class Rule changes are performance-related rules not necessary to ensure safety.

The team says the organisers are wrong in seeking to legitimize the unauthorised Class Rule changes by seeking to use the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard to introduce these rules via the Marine Event Permit.

The decision of the jury will be final and binding on all parties, and contrary to some media speculation, any competitor who resorts to a Court in an issue where the Jury has jurisdiction immediately ceases to be eligible to compete.

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said: 'We look forward to the jury determining the issue so, whatever the decision is, we can get on with the racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup starting July 7.'


Earlier a story appeared in the http://blog.sfgate.com/americascup/2013/06/27/team-new-zealand-to-protest-americas-cup-changes/!San_Francisco_Chronicle which ran comment from the New Zealand and Italian Challengers, who were critical of Regatta Director Iain Murray, and the way the Recommendations have been handled.

Although the contents of the Applications have not yet been released, the two contentious issues are believed to be arbitrary changes to the AC72 Class rules for the use of rudder elevators – which under the current rules are illegal. Oracle Team USA has been running for many months -well before the fatal incident on Artemis Racing’s AC72 which triggered the safety review.

A second issue being taken to the Jury involves the addition of 100kg of weight to the AC72’s and where that should be placed.

With just over a week to go to the start of the America’s Cup Regatta, no Permit to conduct the event has been issued by the US Coast Guard, despite more than a month elapsing since Murray first produced his Safety Recommendations.

It is not known if the US Coast Guard will in fact accede to Murray’s request for the requirement for the Rudder elevators to be included in their permit, or if that body will take a more high level view of the event than adjusting class rules.

Earlier this week, the Coast Guard visited the team bases and talked with Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa. The New Zealand team have been sailing without the adjustable elevators, which are specifically prohibited under the Class rules, in winds conditions of up to 40kts, and substantial seas.

Luna Rossa have also been through a long testing program, but have not done the same hours as the New Zealanders. Both teams sailed on the Hauraki Gulf – a semi-protected body of water 40nm wide – with the teams typically sailing legs of 15nm in a range of sea conditions.

A better boat for the rudder change

Claims by Oracle Team USA’s Grant Simmer, and others in the team, that the AC72 is a better boat for the adjustable elevators are quite correct. Certainly any team is entitled to train and test with their boat out of class. But the issue behind the protests is that to compete in the America’s Cup Regatta they must race within the class rules, and that any changes must be made in accordance with the processes stipulated in the Protocol that governs the organization of the 2013 America’s Cup Regatta.

The reason claimed by Murray for the inclusion of the elevators is to make the boats safer, particularly in the bear away maneuver in which Oracle Team USA pitch poled, in October 2012.

The Artemis Racing fatality occurred when the boat broke up in moderate winds also after bearing away. The two challengers opposed to the legalization of the adjustable rudder elevators have have spent a lot of time and money to find solutions within the class rules, rather than stepping outside them. They have got around the issues by having bigger volume bows, a better positioned daggerboard system, and generally being more seaworthy.

While it has not been proven if the elevators will save a boat in a bow down situation, the evidence seems to point to substantial performance gains in normal sailing, with the elevator being able to be adjusted to control the trim of the AC72, and prevent the narrow bowed AC72’s of Oracle Team USA diving into seas when sailing at speed, as the boat trips over its daggerboard.

A second advantage of the adjustable elevators is to enable the AC72 to get foil borne after a tack or gybe, by dropping the stern, and effectively pulling the bows up in a similar way that a jet does on take-off. The AC72s that are sailing within the Class Rule achieve this by rotating their daggerboard case to alter the angle of the daggerboard. This is easily done by moving a Playstation type unidirectional switch which drives a powerful hydraulic system around the daggerboard case.

While Murray’s recommendation sought to prohibit the adjustment of the rudder winglets to outside of a period five minutes before the race start. But given that the control for their adjustment is likely to be a second unidirectional button, the proposed rule is impossible to police.

Scout’s Honour has never been an effective means of rule enforcement in the America’s Cup.

The class rules specifically prohibit the adjustment of rudder elevators 'while racing'.

That Interpretation given in August 2012 made it clear that a boat invalidated her measurement certificate if the winglet was moved from its measured position.

In simple words, the AC72’s could train and develop with an adjustable winglet, as Oracle Team USA have done, but are not allowed to race with the devices. A point of ambiguity exists in the AC72 Class Rules, where it does not define what the term 'racing' means – and that being the case one would expect that the normal dictionary term would apply.

Timing issues a major point

The other issue being raised in the Jury Hearing will be the timing of the introduction of the forced rule changes. Oracle Team USA are believed to have already fitted the new and larger adjustable elevator winglets, which in another arbitrary rule change by Murray are now allowed to be outside the maximum beam – meaning that the winglets can be the same size if matching, either side of the rudder, or up to a specified maximum span, under the rules he has drafted.

In terms of the timing, the two Challengers will argue that they should not be expected to waste time developing and fitting devices which are currently illegal.

Further, Oracle Team USA has a jump of many months over the other teams in the use of the currently prohibited adjustable rudder elevators.

As it stands the five-strong International Jury will not meet until late next week, and may not rule until after the regatta starts on July 5.

The Challengers who start their selection series, the Louis Vuitton Cup on July 7, will not have time to fit the devices – even if the International Jury rules that Murray has acted within his authority and can implement his controversial recommendation.

One source spoken to by Sail-World, with AC72 design knowledge said that development of new rudders, internal control mechanisms, and the adjustable rudder elevators would take around a month to design, engineer, build and fit.

Then the affected Challengers would have to test the effect of the adjustable winglets in conjunction with their adjustable daggerboards, running a proper test program in a range of conditions. Given that the Challengers have the Louis Vuitton Cup starting in a week, their options would appear to be limited. Oracle Team USA are clearly the major beneficiaries if Murray’s late rule change were properly promulgated.

That late timing makes a mockery of the so-called safety argument for the rudder elevators, as AC72’s will be allowed to sail in the early stages of the Louis Vuitton Cup without the 'safety' elevators. Making the adjustable elevators optional equipment, for any of the racing, only underscores the nonsense of claiming the elevators need to come in to the AC72 class for the 2013 America’s Cup, on safety grounds.

Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing’ first AC72’s were not designed to foil and both capsized and broke up. They only started seriously thinking down that path when Emirates Team NZ began foiling in almost 12 months ago, demonstrating a design and engineering technology they had been developing for 18 months previously.

The short-cut for the other two teams to reduce the advantage of the New Zealanders and Italians. is to use a different and simpler foiling technology, which was is specifically prohibited in the AC72 class Rule.

Bulking up

The reasons for the arbitrary increase in sailing weight have not been made clear. For Artemis Racing, which will sit out the first month of racing, the extra weight probably be will be deployed in the platform structure, (after their first boat broke up), and their second is said to be to a similar design but altered to facilitate foiling.

Oracle Team USA may be able to use the extra weight in their structures. Or they along with Luna Rossa and Artemis racing may be 100kg overweight, or close to it.

Emirates Team New Zealand would be expected to be very close to the prescribed maximum sailing weight – explaining why they oppose the increase. Or, if the increase is accepted they would want to place the corrector weights where they could make the most contribution to righting moment, and speed of their AC72.

The five person Jury will fly to San Francisco next week, and the Hearing of the Applications Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa will be scheduled when it is received.

The matter is not expected to be taken to the New York Supreme Court by Emirates Team New Zealand. But Luna Rossa who are substantially more disadvantaged in the matter, having come much later into the 34th America’s Cup much later, might not be so relaxed.

Oracle Team USA CEO, Russell Coutts is reported in the San Francisco Chronicle as downplaying the last minute rule changes. 'I've never seen a rules issue decide the outcome of a (Cup) race,' he said, and he's been involved in Cup sailing since 1993.

'These guys love to sit around, argue about minutia,' he said. 'They're not doing it for safety reasons. They want to try to force us to spend a week rebuilding the rudders in the boat shed. That's the only reason they're doing it.'

Defender downplays the issues

Other comments from Oracle Team USA continued their theme of trying to marginalize the rules issues.

In an audio interview published in Sailracingmagazine.com, Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill said they were allowed to set the winglet angle before the warning signal.

On the basis that the wind was always lighter earlier in the day the Defender would set the winglets at an angle to get the boat flying and then flatten the angle as the wind increased during the day. Spithill claimed the adjustable winglets were a safety measure, and in his view the winglets should be adjustable during the race.

'We're sailing with the feature because it makes the testing better', Spithill told editor Justin Chisholm. 'We could want to test a whole range of angles of attack for the rudder winglets. It would be incredibly inefficient to go out for sail for the whole day, and have to come back (to the dock) and make a degree change in the winglets, and then go back out.

'I'm shocked if these teams have run their testing programs this way, then it wasn't very well thought out. For us it is a safety feature and a way for us to figure out different angles versus area - just trying to keep the boat safe and also be efficient.'

In contrast to their 25 years of America’s Cup history, Emirates Team New Zealand have this year, enjoyed a good run with the International Jury winning all their applications, save one over entry timing. Their successes included one which overturned an Interpretation of the Measurement Committee claiming the body had exceeded their authority and effectively made new rules rather than just providing interpretations

Oracle Team USA has not enjoyed too much success, including one embarrassing loss when they were held to have broken the Reconnaissance provisions of the Protocol, resulting in a five day no-sail penalty from the International Jury.

In a statememt issued late in the day from Regatta Dirctor, Iain Murray, he heavily defended the rudder elevators on safety grounds, but did not address the process by which AC72 Class Rules can be altered, clearly looking to the US Coast Guard to incorporate his Reconmmendation on this point into the yet to be issued Permit for the event.

Iain Murray's full statement can be read by http://www.americascup.com/en/news/3/news/16127/iain-murray-on-rudder-changes-it-simply-makes-the-boats-safer!clicking_here

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