America's Cup rebuilding project begins

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The Independent Online

The slow and painstaking process of rebuilding the America's Cup, following 30 months of legal wrangling but resolved by the American challenger BMW Oracle's spectacular win on the water, began today with the confirmation that the Vincenzo Onorato's Italian team Mascalzone Latino and its Club Nautico Roma home would be the co-ordinating challenger of record.

But the winning team's boss, Russell Coutts, said that no detailed plans were in place as far as future event venues or the type of boat to be used. Instead he expected lengthy talks with the competitors, both teams and individuals.

But he also did not rule out a return to more than one defence team competing for the right to represent the USA in a future event and said that consideration may be given to tightening nationality rules for competing teams.

No plans have been made about what to do with the 90-foot by 90-foot trimaran and its 232-foot wing mast. The defender, Switzerland's Alinghi and its owner, Ernesto Bertarelli, similarly have to decide whether to continue in the event at all, having won it twice and then being beaten in what has been a deeply bruising experience.

The final stand-off came with the last race on Sunday when members of the challenging club, the Societe Nautique de Geneve, staged what principal race office Harold Bennett described as "a bit of a mutiny". Two of the four race committee members refused to carry out their duties in the race start procedure, the vice-commodore, Fred Meyer, also took no part, and just one was left.

Bennett called on the help of Oracle's representative on his committee boat, Tom Ehman, plus a support boat driver who is also a qualified umpire, to run the start sequence.

Bennett will be writing a full report of what happened for the sport's world governing body, the International Sailing Federation, and it is expected that the SNG will be sending its own version.

But there is little room for sanction. That is one of the reasons why the recently knighted Russell Coutts is giving firm assurances that independent bodies will be appointed to run future races.

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