America's Cup set to sail despite rule change turmoil

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 4:20am


America's Cup organisers have vowed that the premier yacht-racing event will launch as planned next week despite protests over last-minute rule changes.

"I don't see any possibility of delay," America's Cup event authority chief executive Stephen Barclay said in San Francisco where the races will take place.

"No one is talking about not going out there and racing."

Four days of mediation over America's Cup rule changes - adopted in May for safety after the death of British sailor Andrew Simpson - ended on June 22 with no final resolution.

Sticking points included allowing a design change to catamaran "elevators," a part of the rudder that effects how high boats can rise out of the water and, by extension, how fast they can go.

"This provision has nothing to do with safety, it is purely a performance intervention," said a spokesman for Italian team Luna Rossa, which planned to file a formal protest within a few days.

"We will not accept it," he continued. "The race director has exceeded his authority."

Rule changes focused on boats, instead of things like safety gear for crews, fall under the category of "class" changes that can't be implemented without unanimous agreement from competitors, Luna Rossa argued.

Luna Rossa did not threaten to pull out of the Cup, saying "it was here to race."

Team New Zealand also said it would file a formal protest with the America's Cup international jury over proposed changes to the AC72 catamaran class rules.

Regatta director Iain Murray said he stood by all of his recommendations, although he admitted that in seeking to implement such changes without unanimous approval at this late date "we are probably taking an unprecedented step".

All members of the international jury should be in San Francisco next week. A gala Cup opening ceremony will take place as planned on July 4 and racing will begin on schedule a few days later, Barclay said.

Murray has included 37 proposed rule changes in an application with US Coast Guard officials for a marine permit, clearing the way for the event.

"If we get the marine permit, Iain will issue a regatta notice enforcing the rules," Barclay said. "I have every expectation that the teams will go to the jury about that, just as I have every expectation that we will be racing under Iain's rules."


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