Panel Overturns America’s Cup Director’s Controversial Rule Change
The America’s Cup International Jury issued a ruling today upholding an appeal by two teams competing in the America’s Cup sailing races that argued that the regatta’s director, Iain Murray, could not unilaterally make certain rule changes.
The five-person panel ruled in favor of Luna Rossa Challenge and Emirates Team New Zealand, the two teams that filed the appeal in response to a proposal to modify rudders on the AC-72 vessels being used in the races.
The jury held that the rule change recommended by Murray must be withdrawn because not all of the teams agreed to it.
America’s Cup organizers reacted to the ruling with a positive spin:
“This means racing can continue if the teams abide by the existing Class Rule and the Safety Rules,” said ACEA chief executive, Stephen Barclay. “If the teams take this step, it will ensure the safety plan remains intact and the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Event Permit is unaffected.”
The rudder proposal was among a series of recommendations made by Murray following the May 9 death of Sweden-based Artemis Racing crewmember Andrew Simpson when the team’s boat capsized during a practice run.
The Louis Vuitton Cup, a series of races between the three challengers to Oracle Team USA for the America’s Cup, began Sunday, but Luna Rossa Challenge sat out the opening race against the New Zealand team because of the rudder rule dispute.
Luna Rossa officials posted to the team’s website today that the team planned to return to the regatta today.
America’s Cup organizers also said Luna Rossa is participating in its first race today for the Louis Vuitton Cup. However, the team’s opponent, Artemis Racing, is sitting out the competition until at least later this month while making repairs to its boat, which was damaged in the May 9 tragedy.
New Zealand and Luna Rossa had argued that Murray’s rules affecting yacht rudders unfairly benefit Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA, which doesn’t begin to race until the finals in September.
French fashion brand Louis Vuitton is cutting back its sponsorship funds for the challenger round due to the lower-than-expected turnout of teams, the New Zealand Herald reported earlier this week.
Read the today’s entire ruling here.