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LVC controversy, offshore news—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 10 Jul 2013
Emirates Team NZ - Louis Vuitton Cup, Day 2, San Francisco Chuck Lantz
The America’s Cup world sits on pins and needles as the International Jury considers the eight-plus hours of evidence that Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) presented in their joint protest of America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray on Monday. For fans just tuning in, the controversy stems from a list of 37 safety recommendations that Murray made in the wake of Artemis Racing’s May 9 capsize, which tragically killed Andrew 'Bart' Simpson. ETNZ and Luna Rossa both contend that a few of these recommendations are aimed at improving performance, not increasing safety, and that Murray overstepped his authority with these recommendations.

As a result, Luna Rossa is boycotting the Luis Vuitton Cup until the International Jury reaches a decision on the protest and on the validity of Murray’s recommendations. ETNZ sailed a solo race on Sunday, earning the first point of the LVC, and then again on Tuesday (where they set a new AC72 speed record of 43.26 knots), but this was hardly the start of the 'Summer of Racing' that so many fans have been looking forward to for so long. According to the latest reports, inside, it’s strongly hoped that the International Jury will reach a decision by Saturday, if not sooner.

'We still feel there is value in us racing on the course area under time pressure to work on our systems and to make sure we are fully prepared for later stages of the competition,' said ETNZ skipper Dean Barker. 'Meanwhile, we are standing by for the result of the Jury decision over the next few days and [to see] where that will lead.'

No doubt the additional point that ETNZ earned today is also nice, but, given that ETNZ is by far the most prepared challenger, this small early game advantage could easily prove irrelevant once the actual racing starts. Because of Artemis’ absence (mid-to-late July/early August is their likely timeframe to launch their second-generation AC72) and because of Luna Rossa’s refusal to race until their protest is considered, this week’s racing action will be likely be limited to a 'no-show' non-race between Artemis and Luna Rossa on Thursday. Then, the Kiwis are slated to race Luna Rossa again on Saturday.

Depending on the International Jury’s pending decision, this could be the first time that two AC72s line-up with real points pending. Be sure to stay current with the website for the latest LVC/AC-related news so that you can plan your weekend’s sailing/viewing accordingly.

In ocean-racing circles, the first boats competing in the 2013 Transpacific Yacht Race have now have now left Los Angeles, bound for Hawaii in what has been described as perfect Southern California conditions. To date, the Transpacific Yacht Club (TYC) Race Committee has conducted three staggered starts, with the next set of boats expected to depart from L.A. on Thursday.

'We are really pleased that the fleet got off to this great start,' said TYC Commodore Dave Cort. 'This was a classic day, just perfect breeze strength and direction. Some teams were very competitive from the start; others had more of the Aloha spirit. Regardless, we look forward to hearing from the teams en route, wish them all Good Luck, and we look forward to seeing them in Hawaii.'

As for the sailors, the excitement is audible. 'I think this will be a great adventure and everyone should have a good time,' said first-time Transpac sailor Shirley Fischer, who is racing aboard 'DS Aquarius', a Jeanneau 43 Sun Odyssey that’s owned by her daughter Janet Nicholson and Hiroyuki Funaoku. 'I’m 86 years young, I’ve sailed before with Hiro and my daughter Janet, and they asked me to come, so here I am. I’m looking forward to just being a part of this, for going this far, and enjoying the experience.

Meanwhile, the World Sailing Speed Record Council has ratified a new all-out singlehanded Transatlantic record of just five days, two hours, 56 minutes and ten seconds. Francis Joyon (FRA) pulled off this jaw-dropping achievement aboard the 118-foot trimaran 'IDEC' in mid-June, sailing a total of 2,880 miles at an average pace of 23.41 knots, besting Thomas Colville’s 2008 record. More, inside.

Also inside, get the latest scoop on the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship (July 11-20 in Limassol, Cyprus), the PWA Ponzo World Cup and the ongoing Marblehead to Halifax Race.

And finally, check out the recently released footage of Luna Rossa performing a foiling gybe during a recent practice session. The Italians might not be racing until the International Jury delivers their decision, but their slippery-looking silver AC72 sure look good on foils!

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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