Japanese challengers break ranks

The Japanese broke ranks with the rest of the challengers for the America's Cup yesterday by agreeing to tune up with the defenders, Team New Zealand.

The Japanese broke ranks with the rest of the challengers for the America's Cup yesterday by agreeing to tune up with the defenders, Team New Zealand.

The Nippon Challenge's skipper, Peter Gilmour, took his latest yacht, Idaten, out into the Huauraki Gulf for a session with "the enemy" as the rest of the five syndicates who begin the semi-final double round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup on Sunday continued their separate final preparations.

The matter was immediately reported to Dyer Jones, the chairman of the America's Cup Challengers Association, but he refused to comment pending further investigations. There is a long-standing protocol that the challengers give nothing away to the defender. That is particularly important in this 30th America's Cup, with the New Zealanders having no rival to trial for the defender place.

The Sydney to Hobart race jury is likely to dismiss a controversial protest by the Sydney maxi Brindabella, which followed the record-breaking Nokia home on Monday. Brindabella came in almost an hour behind Nokia, which set a record of one day 19hr 48min 2sec.

A race spokesman, Peter Campbell, said Brindabella's protest was "technical". The Brindabella claim is that Nokia breached rules by carrying too many crew members, given that it also carried ballast tanks to shift 2.5 metric tonnes of sea water rapidly from side to side, aiding its stability.

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