SAILING: Views from aloft lead to overview

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The Independent Online
The America3 defence syndicate is attempting to scotch a ploy introduced by Team New Zealand - sending Murray Jones to the top of the mast to keep a look out for changing wind patterns up the course. Jones spends most of the day 100 feet above the long swell of the Pacific, supplying information to the decision-makers at the back of their so-far unbeaten yacht. Look-outs have been employed elsewhere, though not so far up the mast.

Ahead of their race against Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes, the syndicate bosses agreed to find out if the tactic is illegal or, if not, to ask for an interpretation of what is permissible.

The America's Cup international jury had stated the ploy was allowed, so long as the crew member was performing a task and the time taken was commensurate with that task. Being a tactician takes all day.

The A3 rules adviser, Barbara Farquhar, drew up the protest after Stripes had won the race with a man up in the rigging. Their claim that he was not performing a task was dismissed. But that opened the way for a series of supplementary questions on what the jury meant by "performing a task", including looking for wind, kelp or whales - and looking at opposition keels.

Team New Zealand are keeping the jury busy in another way. They have pressured them into agreeing that there is a case to hear over whether Nippon Challenge, who came within 14 seconds of inflicting the first defeat on TNZ, had modified their first new boat so much that they virtually had a second new boat. As their official second new boat is being shipped from Japan, and the rules allow only two, any judgment against Nippon would make their new boat ineligible.

Light winds meant no racing yesterday for the defenders and a further day of postponement for the challengers.

America's Cup trials (San Diego, Calif)

Team W L Pts New Zealand 8 0 10

oneAustralia 5 3 7

Nippon 5 3 6

NZL 39 5 2 5

Sydney 95 3 5 4

France 3 1 6 1

Rioja de Espana 0 8 0

Defenders Stars and Stripes 5 3 7

Young America 5 3 5

America3 2 6 3

1 point for each win in first round, 2 in second

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