SAILING

Skip America's Cup meeting, Kiwis told

Regatta boss Coutts calls Team New Zealand to not come to London gathering after they expressed dissatisfaction with 'published protocol'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 10:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 10:02pm
AP

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If America's Cup challengers are to get on the same tack as defending champions Oracle Team USA heading into the next regatta, they will do so without Emirates Team New Zealand - at least for the time being.

It's quite obvious the whole reason we're having a meeting is we don't agree on everything, especially everything that we as defender are proposing
Russell Coutts

America's Cup boss Russell Coutts said he told the Kiwis not to come to a meeting in London on Tuesday at which competitors would try to hash out differences after a week of bruising publicity.

Coutts is chief executive of Oracle Team USA and head of the America's Cup Event Authority.

He said the event authority was working with the teams "to further define an event based on the published protocol". Coutts said that after he heard from another team the Kiwis did not want to proceed on that basis, "I rang them up and said, 'It's best that you not come.' We have four other challenging teams and the defender that want to work together to have a great event this time and in the future."

Scheduled to attend the meeting are Britain's Ben Ainslie Racing, Sweden's Artemis Racing, Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge and Team France.

Those four syndicates issued a statement expressing support for the America's Cup following the withdrawal of an Australian syndicate that was serving as Challenger of Record. Team New Zealand were not included in the statement.

The withdrawal of Hamilton Island Yacht Club on July 18 was the first public sign of dissatisfaction among challengers regarding the cost, rules and location of the 2017 regatta. Hamilton Island negotiated the protocol with Coutts.

"It's quite obvious the whole reason we're having a meeting is we don't agree on everything, especially everything that we as defender are proposing," New Zealander Coutts said. "Hopefully they'll listen to our rationale and debate it in a constructive way."

Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton said it was "not worth getting into this from our side. It will all play out in due course". New Zealand are still expected to enter by the August 8 deadline.

Coutts and Dalton sparred verbally before the America's Cup last year.

After Team New Zealand took an 8-1 lead against Oracle Team USA on San Francisco Bay, the American syndicate won eight straight races in one of the biggest comebacks in sports to retain the Auld Mug.

Coutts sailed undefeated in three straight America's Cup matches from 1995-2003. The first two were with Team New Zealand before he jumped ship to Alinghi of Switzerland, which he skippered to beat the Kiwis.

Competitors are unhappy with certain rules in the protocol for the next event and disagree with Coutts' decision to pull the regatta from San Francisco.

Coutts has narrowed the venue to San Diego and Bermuda, with a decision due in September. The challengers met in Los Angeles six days before Hamilton Island dropped out. According to minutes of that meeting, it was a "universal concern" that Bermuda "is not a great venue", and "all challengers feel that San Francisco is the right location for the finals and match".

It is unlikely Coutts' mind will be changed on the venue.

Luna Rossa is expected to become the new Challenger of Record, which represents all foreign syndicates.