Iain Murray takes America’s Cup to the brink with warning he could call off the whole event


The threat of calling off the America’s Cup was made by the regatta director Iain Murray the night before Thursday’s opening ceremony in San Francisco.

Murray, a former Australian challenger for the 1851 trophy, said that if protests by Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Prada-backed Luna Rossa against two of a recommended 37 safety measures were upheld he was required to go immediately to the United States Coastguard (USCG).

He would, he said, have to report that he could not deliver on his package of safety recommendations which, he said, was an essential part of persuading the USCG to issue the permit to stage the regatta.

He said he had no intention of resigning if the international jury, headed by Australian Dave Tillett and including two British rules experts, Bryan Willis and John Doerr, found in favour of the protest that Murray has exceeded his powers by introducing such late changes in the design rules. “I’m not planning on going anywhere,” he said, “I don’t like to leave things unfinished.”

He said he was appointed to act on behalf of the three challengers, though one of them, Sweden’s Artemis, whose crewmember Andrew Simpson, a British Olympic gold medallist was killed in a training accident, will not be able to make the early Louis Vuitton Cup elimination races which start on Sunday.

He also looks after the interests of the locally-based cup holder and defender, Oracle USA, which is backed by billionaire boss of the Oracle software house, Larry Ellison. There was no question, he said, that his rule changes gave some sort of performance advantage to Oracle.

Artemis CEO Paul Cayard appeared to condemn the new 72-foot wing-powered catamarans as unfit for purpose on the windy waters of San Francisco Bay when talking to local media last week.

In a windy Marstrand, Sweden, Britain’s defending world champion Ian Williams and his Team GAC Pindar start on Thursday the quarter-final stages of the Swedish Grand Prix stage of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. The line-up is:

Simone Ferrarese (ITA)  vs Staffan Lindberg (FIN)

Phil Robertson (NZL) vs Johnie Berntsson (SWE)

Ian Williams (GBR) vs Keith Swinton (AUS)

Adam Minoprio (NZL) vs Bjorn Hansen (SWE)