International jury upholds two-team protest over America's Cup rules change


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The Independent Online

Back from the brink. An international jury has upheld a protest by both Emirates Team New Zealand the Prada-backed Italians that changes to rules demanded by America's Cup race director Iain Murray which could have side-swiped competition for the 162-year old trophy that is the America's Cup.

The loud complaints from the pair of challengers to two of the safety recommendations which came out of a review following the death of British Olympic gold medallist Andrew 'Bart' Simpson were accompanied by a barrage of threats.

Murray said he would have to tell the US Coastguard that his recommendations, on which he implied the permit to race relied, could not be met.

The third challenger, Simpson's Swedish-financed Artemis team, said that if the new rules were not upheld they may be forced out of the event.

The Italians refused to take to the race track on San Francisco Bay until the jury decision was made, and was also indicating that it may pack its tents.

An early indication that the decision was going the Italians' way was made in a statement two hours before the jury decision was posted that they would continue to compete in the event. They were also seen to begin the lengthy preparation to launch their 72-foot wing-powered catamaran to line up in their Louis Vuitton Cup elimination clash with Artemis. Everyone knew that Artemis would not turn up as they work to prepare their new boat.

The 193-paragraph decision from the five-person jury headed by Australian umpire Dave Tillett sets out all the arguments put forward by all the parties, including the coastguard, which said that marine event sponsors, in this case a combination of the America's Cup Event Authority and the Murray-led America's Cup Event management, were responsible for the safety of their own events.

Emirates Team New Zealand is pleased the jury has maintained the sanctity of the AC72 Class Rule in ruling that it can be changed only by unanimous consent of the competitors and the regatta director,“ said a spokesman for the team

”We have proposed that when Artemis is ready to race they be given dispensation from the class rule regarding rudder elevators so long as they otherwise comply with the class rule and the safety recommendations. This would require the consent of the other competitors and we would strongly urge this be given.“