Empty threats cloud the contest

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The threat by the San Diego Yacht Club to disqualify America3 and Pact '95 for attempting to oust the third America's Cup defence syndicate - headed by its former commodore, Dennis Conner - proved an empty one yesterday.

The vice-commodore, Bill Munster, with the approval of the commodore, Mike Morton, had written to the chairman of the defence committee, Wytie Cable, condemning the two syndicates' collaboration on weather information and boat tuning. "The acts by Pact '95 and America3 during the past 72 hours may violate the defence plan and its intent of fair sailing for all," read the SDYC statement.

But America3 simply shrugged off the threat. The syndicate's chief executive, Vincent Moeyersoms, said: "We are not concerned with the statement issued by the San Diego Yacht Club."

Six hours later Morton backed down. "They will not be disqualified," he said. "We will tune up again with [America3]," Pact '95's Robert Hopkins said.

Had Conner's Stars & Stripes beaten America3 in Tuesday's scheduled showdown the defence job would have been his regardless. But, for the 18th day out of 72, racing was disrupted by unsuitable weather. Still, if there was no race yesterday then Conner would have won. However, the defence committee has extend the racing, a decision which Conner may justifiably contest.