New Zealand win elimination race for the America’s Cup... against no-one


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The Independent Online

The New Zealanders duly added a second point from their second race in the Louis Vuitton Cup elimination races for the America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay and for the second time they were racing against no-one. They were quicker second time around the 40-minue course.

On Sunday it was the Italians on the Prada-backed Luna Rossa who decided not to show up until a dispute over the rules was settled. On Tuesday it was the Swedish team Artemis, backed by oil billionaire Torbjörn Tornqvist, which failed to show as they work around the clock to prepare their 72-foot wing-powered catamaran having trashed their first boat in a training accident which claimed the life of British Olympic medallist Andrew Simpson.

While a television commentary team tried valiantly to make a one-horse race sound interesting, a five-person international jury resumed its deliberations over a protest by both the New Zealanders and the Italians that race director Iain Murray had exceeded his authority by demanding changes to the design rules with just six weeks to go before the Louis Vuitton racing began.

‘You can’t do that’ say the protestors. ‘Yes I can’ says Murray if I feel that the changes are essential for safety reasons.

All the depositions to the jury were completed after an eight and a half hour session on Monday. But the jury’s decision, which they hoped would be delivered by Wednesday may, it is said, be delayed even further until Thursday. What this competition needs is a definitive answer, even if it means the Italians decide to pull out entirely.

There are ramifications down the line for yacht racing in general. For the time being the event, which has been compared with Nascar racing but is closer, until there is a genuine head to head, to Bonneville Salt Flats trials. The public waits for the full promise of a summer of sailing to be delivered.

And, for the moment, all the attention is on what is underneath the boat. Soon the sail design above decks will also play a part.