Japanese redesign approved : SAILING

Click to follow
The changes that the Japanese made to the first of their two new America's Cup yachts were approved by the international jury in San Diego yesterday. In reply to a protest by Team New Zealand that the extensive changes amounted to a complete new yacht, the jury stated: "There is no limit to the modifications that may be made to a yacht. However, if the entire hull, and particularly the canoe body [thepart which sits in the water and excluding the deck] is replaced, the result will be another yacht."

Peter Blake, who heads the TNZ syndicate, said: "It's a decision which, in our view, is completely inconsistent with. . . the whole thrust, spirit and intent of the cost-saving measures which were supposed to be so important to this regatta and to the future of the America's Cup."

But the Japanese, in a statement using capital letters, said, "Nippon Challenge maintains its original position that THE RULE IS THE RULE and we are pleased that our position has been vindicated."

The base problem is that the regatta rules limit the number of new boats any syndicate may build to two. The jury, headed by Britain's John Doerr, acknowledges the rule as it stands "may not achieve all that the writers intended." Changes to the rule areseparate from interpretations of the rule.

This leaves the way open for those with the wish, budget, and technical expertise to bring in large teams of boatbuilders and make extensive modifications to their present boats.

Even that, though, may be beyond the abilities of the Spanish, who went down to their largest-ever defeat at the hands of Chris Dickson while, in the other Louis Vuitton Cup challenger race sailed to catch up from postponement at the weekend, John Bertrand's oneAustralia retired just minutes into their race against Nippon Challenge with a broken strut in the mast.

On the Citizen Cup defender trial course, Kevin Mahaney's Pact '95 recovered from a deficit of over two minutes, caused by poor spinnaker handling when leading, to beat Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes.

America's Cup trials (San Diego, California): Challenger elimination series, second round: Tag Heuer Challenge, NZ (C Dickson) bt Rioja de Espana (P Campos) by 15min 4sec; Nippon (M Namba) bt oneAustralia (J Bertrand) retired.

Challenger standings: 1 Team New Zealand 12 pts; 2= One Australia 11 and Tag Heuer Challenge 11; 4 Nippon Challenge 8; 5 France3 5; 6 Sydney95 4; 7 Rioja de Espana 0.

Defender elimination series, second round: Young America (K Mahaney) bt Stars & Stripes (D Conner) by 1min 46sec.

Defender standings: 1 Stars & Stripes 9pts; 2 Young America 7; 3 America3 3.