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America's Cup: Mediation ends with issues unresolved and undisclosed


'34th America’s Cup - The America’s Cup in San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge'    Gilles Martin-Raget: AmericasCup©    Click Here to view large photo

America's Cup organisers have released a statement following the conclusion of the Mediation process conducted by two members of the International Jury at the behest of the Regatta Director, Iain Murray.

The statement is cold comfort to America's Cup fans, with no indication of what has been agreed and what is still being disputed.

Particularly disappointing is the lack of comment on the format of the series or start date of racing.

Currently, what is known as the America's Cup Regatta (Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup Match) is scheduled to commence on July 5 with a fleet race. The format of that event has not been announced. The revised schedule published by the Regatta Director shows the three Challengers starting five rounds of Round Robin Racing on July 7 with a single 60 minute race between Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand.

Immediately after that schedule was announced, Artemis Racing, the Challenger of Record, issued a statement saying they would not be ready to race until late July at the earliest, maybe taking in the last of the five Round Robins scheduled, or maybe just starting in the Semi-Finals in early August.

Luna Rossa and Emirates Team NZ then promoted an alternative schedule that would have seen the start of the America's Cup Challenger Series, or Louis Vuitton Cup, start on July 19 - a move that was rejected by Artemis Racing.

The statement issued, quoting the Mediators, in reality says very little, save what was already known or able to be deduced. It is believed that most of the issues were resolved very early in the process.

Bryan Willis, America’s Cup Mediator -  Guy Nowell ©   Click Here to view large photo
The statement reads:

Mediation aimed at reaching agreement on implementing 37 safety recommendations previously issued by Regatta Director Iain Murray has ended after four days.

'The four teams agreed on the vast majority of the safety recommendations,' said Bryan Willis, one of the two International Jury members acting as mediators. 'It was a useful and positive exercise and ended with only a couple of points unresolved.'

All 37 of the Regatta Director safety recommendations, developed in consultation with the teams following the fatal capsize of Artemis Racing last month, will remain part of the Marine Event Permit application previously submitted to the US Coast Guard.

'I want to thank the mediators for their work, as the process was beneficial,' Murray said. 'It was useful to hear the teams’ perspective on safety from a competitive viewpoint.

'But as Regatta Director, I have a clear task. For me, safety means safety for everyone. Full stop. I stand behind all of the original recommendations to increase safety for all of our sailors this summer.

'If the recommendations are included by the Coast Guard in our Marine Event Permit then I will issue a Regatta Notice harmonizing the various Rule documents to reflect the safety recommendations.

'I look forward to working with the Coast Guard, teams and other stakeholders to ensure we run a safe and successful America’s Cup this summer.'


The America’s Cup seems to be suspended until the rules issues are fully resolved -  Chris Cameron-ETNZ©   Click Here to view large photo
One issue believed to still be unresolved is the question of Rudder Elevators (similar to the tail elevators on a plane) and whether these can be adjusted. The issues were queried by way of a request for an interpretation to the Measurement Committee who replied that they could not be adjusted without invalidating a boat's measurement certificate.

However what is effectively a new AC72 class rule was incorporated in one of the 37 Recommendations compiled by the America's Cup Regatta Director acting alone, after the six members of the Review Committee declined to put their name to the report citing insurance liability reasons.

There is no indication of what has finally been determined on wind limits, which were agreed to be reduced in absolute terms from those stated in the Protocol, but which also had an element that would allow race start times to be crept forward if there was a forecast that winds might exceed a prescribed limit during a race or at start time.

The issues with the Recommendations were canvassed in Sail-World almost a month ago click here to read. Little seems to have changed in the intervening period.

It is not clear what will happen at this juncture, with the Opening Ceremony for the Louis Vuitton Cup, now reduced to just a shadow of its former self, just 10 days away.

Organisers now seem to be proceeding along the lines of getting a Coastguard Permit issued incorporating the agreed measures. Whether those in dispute are also tried to be pushed through the same mincer remains to be seen. That process was originally tried by organisers immediately after the announcement of the 37 Recommendations and was a dismal failure after complaints from two of the Challengers The matters were then properly referred to the International Jury, a body established to adjudicate on such matters. But in the meantime two weeks were wasted.

It would now seem that the unresolved matters wll go to the International Jury for resolution, but that process may not be completed before the start of the regatta, such as it now is.


Better times for the Louis Vuitton Cup - Patrizio Bertelli and Francesco de Angelis are presented with the Louis Vuitton Cup by Yves Carcelle of Louis Vuitton in 2000. -  Event Media   Click Here to view large photo
At the start of the Mediation process a code of silence was imposed on all parties in an endeavour to stop comment as to the progress or otherwise.

While maybe in the best interests of the Mediation, the lack of information and continuing uncertainty does nothing for international fans and media.

Little thought seems to be given by organisers to the plight of international fans planning on traveling to the Louis Vuitton Cup, who with travel and accommodation already booked have no idea as to what they will see, or if there will be more than 60 minutes of racing once every six days in the Round Robin phase of the first month of the regatta.

Organisers were quick to offer local fans a refund to local fans, who had already paid for seats in the bleachers on Marina Green on the edge of the race course. However the far more serious situation regarding international fans is being ignored, and indeed is being exacerbated.

At this stage the only real certainty seems to be that the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup will start on August 15, and will be a best of 13 series with two races of 30 minutes race duration being sailed each day, with the America's Cup starting on September 7.


Economic spend is expected to reduce further from Valenia 2007 levels with the recduced racing schedule and impact on fly-in fans -  Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget  
Big loser from the shuffling around issues surrounding the America's Cup Regatta, is the City of San Francisco already facing a substantial reduction in spend by visitors, teams and maybe media. the Economic Report (click here to read) forecast a 20 % increase in visitor numbers over Valencia in 2007.

That regatta spanned three months with 12 teams competing, the 2013 America's Cup, under the reduced race schedule will effectively shorten to just over one month and with four teams entered. Using data from the Economic Report Team Spend alone has dropped from USD540million to USD180million.

The same report included a 25% increase in media visitss to San Francisco, again a result unlikely to be achieved under the slashed racing schedule.

For the latest published Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup schedule click here. NB Artemis Racing have indicated their intention not to race until July 25 at earliest and more likely August 6. Races scheduled against Artemis racing (AR) in this schedule wuill require the other boat to sail the course alone to get the point. As the schedule currently stands, by July 25 or July 27, a Challenger will have sufficent points to be able to discontinue racing in the Round Robin.

The interests of international fans are being ignored by those involved in the 34th America’s Cup -  Linda Wright©   Click Here to view large photo


by Richard Gladwell

  

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12:28 AM Sun 23 Jun 2013GMT


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