Alinghi must meet measurement rules

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The Independent Online

Extra pressure poured on the Swiss holder of the America's Cup, Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi, following the latest ruling from New York judge, Shirley Kornreich.

In accepting en bloc the recommendations of a panel of sailing rules experts, she decreed that Alinghi's state of the art catamaran will have to meet measurement rules limiting its length to 90 feet when it is fully kitted for racing, including the addition of water ballast.

Alinghi had argued that it could be measured in its lightest state. Adding weight sinks the boat further into the water, which can increase its effective length, possible beyond the legal limit.

Alinghi's lawyers has earlier argued that the challenger yacht, in contrast, should be measured in full racing trim. Alinghi will now have to ensure that its yacht meets the terms set down by the judge in time to line up against the American challenger, Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle, on February 8.

It also seems increasingly likely that both sides are being corralled into the event being staged in Valencia as, although Alinghi still has an appeal against the denial of its United Arab Emirate of Ras al Khaimah, both sides have agreed on the Spanish venue for the last Cup being the default position.

Across the Mediterranean in Nice Britain's America's Cup challenger Team Origin, skippered by Ben Ainslie, lost the first of its best-of-three semi-final matches in the Louis Vuitton Trophy series against Italy's Azzurra, skippered by Francesco Bruni.

Once again being staged in less than ideal wind condition – it was the only one of five scheduled races to be completed – Ainslie and tactician Iain Percy lost control at the end of the first leg and could never recover. Emirates Team New Zealand meets Russia's Synergy in the other half.

The 10 remaining 60-footers in the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Costa Rica are strung out over 850 miles with British yacht Artemis, co-skippered by Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet, bringing up the rear, and Marc Guillemot and Charles Cauledrier-Benac leading and expected to finish by Tuesday.

Mike Golding and Javier Sanso are secure in third but there is a close race for sixth and seventh between Roland Jourdain and Jean-Luc Nelias in Veolia and Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson in Aviva.