America's Cup- Coutts claims ISAF Jury on a crusade, backs Kiwi report
by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz on 12 Apr 2014
Oracle Team USA's Sir Russell Coutts has stepped into the fray over the AC45 boat tampering and the penalties handed out against the team he headed.
Four time winner of the America’s Cup winner and Olympic Gold medalist, Russell Coutts Gilles Martin-Raget/Oracle Racing.com © http://www.oracleteamusamedia.com/
Earlier this week Yachting New Zealand, the national body covering two of the sailors named by the America's Cup International Jury, released a 27 page report on the matter, which concluded that no further action should be taken against Andrew Walker and Matt Mitchell.
Olympic Gold medalist Coutts (NZL) who skippered the New Zealand boat in two America's Cup wins, says 'the report is spot on in my opinion'.
One sailor, Dirk de Ridder (NED) had a similar finding made on his involvement, by the Dutch national body, who also recommended no further action. But that recommendation was ignored by the International Sailing Federation, the world body for the sport. The ISAF have conducted their own review of de Ridder's case and have made an unpublished determination, believed to be taken to Appeal by de Ridder..
On his Facebook page, Coutts said that 'The ISAF jury appeared to be on a crusade to 'save the America’s Cup' and I believe they may have allowed that belief to cloud their judgment.
'In fact, it is interesting to note that around the same time, the President of ISAF was actively discussing moves to try to grab more control over the event.'
'There are many very good people in ISAF that have worked hard and given up a lot to further the interests of the sport. However, the current administration with their politically charged agenda is doing our sport a huge disservice in my view.'
The relationship between the ISAF and Oracle Team USA is not understood to be harmonious, with Oracle Team USA looking for a reduced ISAF influence in the adjudication for the next America's Cup.
This issue is believed to be one of the sticking points between the Challenger of Record and the Defender in their negotiations for the next Protocol. That process has been running for six months without an end in sight.
For an earlier story, including the full Yachting NZ report along with previously confidential excerpts from the International Jury interviews click here