America's Cup go-ahead but rules rows continue in wake of safety concerns

 

With dispute still raging fiercely over late changes to design specifications, and with less than a week to go until the start of the America’s Cup summer of sailing, the United States Coast Guard’s necessary permit to race on San Francisco Bay has been issued.

A formal protest has been lodged by Emirates Team New Zealand over the railroading of design changes which the race director Iain Murray says are solely in the interests of improved safety following the death in a training accident of British Olympic gold medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson on the Swedish challenger Artemis.

Murray assembled a committee to review safety on the hugely powerful 72-foot wing sail catamarans stipulated by the cup holder and defender Oracle Racing Team USA. Though the cup is nominally held by the Golden Gate Yacht Club, ORTRUSA backer, computer software multi-billionaire Larry Ellison has financed all the infrastructure to manage the staging of the cup defence.

But there has also been an insistence that the two executive arms, the America’s Cup Event Authority and Murray’s America’s Cup Race Management, are independent. It was ACRM that issued 37 recommendations which, it said, had been attached to the application for an event permit and which were seen as a prerequisite to the permit being issued.

Under USCG rules, and with the involvement of the San Francisco Captain of the Port’s office, applicants for event permits are required to submit everything by at the least 135 days before an event is to be staged.

Sticking points for ETNZ and fellow challenger Luna Rossa, carrying the Italian colours of luxury goods house Prada, are three of the 37 which mean that the design parameters issued by Oracle to potential challengers nearly three years ago have been changed with days to go while the defender does not have to appear on the race track in anger until 7 September.

They include changes to the rudder design, which will add drag, and an increase to the minimum weight of the boat by 100kg (220lbs). Part of the research, design, engineering, and build work long done is thereby negated and some expensive, painstaking search for advantage wasted.

The need to make the boats heavier has not been explained; the change to the rudder design is said to increase stability as the boats skim over the water on foils, though it appears that ETNZ and LR have successfully solved that test by their own efforts.

The moves are puzzling a sailing public that is about as trusting of America’s Cup organisations as it is of politicians and sceptical of an event mired in legal battles and a reputation for “jimmying” the rules. Even more bizarre is that racing will already have begun before a five-person international jury, chaired by the Australian Dave Tillett and containing two British members, Bryan Willis and John Doerr, meets to consider ETNZ’s complaint that Murray has exceeded his powers by changing the fundamental structure of the game.

Other top experts and jurors have said they would be loathe to interfere in the laid down provisions of an event protocol or the technical rules governing the design of any class of racing yachts.

Nor will the Swedish challenger be ready on time to start racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup trials to find a sole challenger but will be allowed to join in if and when its replacement boat, due to be launched in about a week, comes through all its sea and safety trials successfully.

While the saga continues, many local businesses who have invested in the promise of a financial bonanza outlined in a hugely optimistic economic impact forecast are looking forward to relatively lean times and the promised worldwide television audience will only be able to see some very fast boats in a slowly unfolding event, assuming none of the three challengers incur further debilitating damage.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project