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America's Cup- White Smoke finally emerges from the Jury Room

by Bob Fisher on 12 Jul 2013
A pensive ACEA CEO Stephen Barclay (red) alongside Regatta Director Iain Murray - at this morning’s America’s Cup media Conference Chuck Lantz

It took three days for the five-person International Jury to issue its findings from the two protests submitted by Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa.

And when the tablets were handed down – all 23 pages – the important decisions were to be found 22 pages in, and most important of them all was: 'Regatta Notice 189 has the effect of changing the Class Rule and is therefore not in accordance with Protocol Article 4.3(k). The Regatta Director is ordered to withdraw Race Notice 189.

That’s the one that extended the 'elevators' on the rudders, so that now all boats, and that includes Oracle Team USA and Artemis, to conform to the original ruling and not have bigger wings on their rudders that the original rule allowed.

The Race Director’s Safety Recommendations – 35 of them – can stand and the International Jury confirmed this. It noted that the Regatta Director has, subsequent to its hearing, issued RN 197, which revises the structural review of the rudders.

There was not the slightest sign of triumphalism about Grant Dalton when the decision was announced; 'We are pleased to win, we didn’t go into the (Protest) Room to lose,' he said, adding: 'If we’d lost we would still have complied. I feel that in the decision we have gained the integrity of the sport.'

Dalton said that he was perfectly happy with the requirement of locking the angle of the elevators on the rudders five minutes before the start of each race and explained how it was done. 'We fix the angle and lock it in place, then we take a photograph of the lock and send this off a telephone to the Measurement Committee. It’s much the same as we used to have to do in the Round the World Races when we sealed the propeller before the start of the leg,' he explained.

Iain Murray, the Race Director, was charged by the International Jury to 'make the views of all the Competitors known to the Coast Guard' so that the Marine Event Permit can be maintained, and that he is to negotiate with that body any changes to any component of the safety plan and what differences this will make.

As always phlegmatic, Murray said: 'We’ll make it work one way or another.'

And while all this was being debated ashore, Luna Rossa went out on to the race course to sail a five-leg circuit in San Francisco Bay – essentially her Louis Vuitton Round Robin against Artemis, whose boat is still undergoing stress tests at their Alameda headquarters.

Artemis said earlier that unless the alterations to the rudder elevators were approved, she would not be able to race. Murray, and the three skippers have agreed to allow Artemis to use asymmetric elevators.
Peace has come to the America’s Cup – for a few days at least.

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