America’s Cup: Ehman raises question of radio communication in veiled accusation against New Zealand


A veiled accusation of cheating has been made against the New Zealand challenger for the America’s Cup by a senior member of event organiser and the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club.

Tom Ehman, vice commodore of the club and director of external affairs for the America’s Cup Event Authority said that the New Zealanders had a system of radio communication between the support boat and the New Zealand tactician Ray Davies which the Oracle team does not have.

In a reference to a famous accusation made by Stars and Stripes skipper Dennis Conner against the New Zealanders in 1986 in Fremantle, Ehman said “why would you if you didn’t want to”. Conner had asked why the New Zealanders would have built their 12-metre yacht in fibreglass (when all the others were being built in aluminium) if they didn’t want to cheat. Asked if he knew what he was saying, Ehman replied: “Yes.”

Race director Iain Murray said he had conducted an inquiry about communications and had sought clarification. He said the communications systems were available to both teams, that they had to be switched off before the start of a race, and could only be switched on again after a race was finished.

“We don’t believe they have been cheating at all,” said Murray.

Ehman’s complaint was sent in writing to the New Zealand rules adviser, Russell Green, who replied that the team had not been cheating in any way and specifically not in employing outside assistance. No protest had been lodged with the international jury.

Tom Ehman has a long history of being at the centre of America’s Cup intrigue. He was at the heart of the court case which led to the 1988 mismatch between Conner’s catamaran and the New Zealand big boat. More recently he was also involved in the Oracle court case against Swiss holder Ernesto Bertarelli which led to the American trimaran crushing the Swiss catamaran in Valencia in 2010.