Controversy Could Bring America's Cup Into Disrepute
Following the controversial vote to downsize the 35th America’s Cup boats from 62ft AC62s to wing-sailed, foiling catamarans between 45 and 50 feet and team Luna Rossa’s withdrawal from the event as a result, a rift has grown between teams that goes beyond the Cup’s traditional rivalry.
The remaining teams released a collective statement last week criticising Emirates Team New Zealand for supporting team Luna Rossa in the vote to keep the 2017 boat size at 62ft. The decision was made to reduce the cost of the competition and make the America’s Cup a more sustainable event in the future. The group statement signed by leaders of 4 of the remaining 5 teams; Ben Ainslie (BAR), Franck Cammas (Team France), Iain Percy (Artemis Racing), Jimmy Spithill (ORACLE TEAM USA) was released on the America’s Cup website announcing the following:
We are disappointed to see how Team New Zealand are characterizing the rule changes that reflect the collective will of the America’s Cup teams.
During discussions last month, ALL six teams, including Team new Zealand, agreed on the need to change to a smaller boat to reduce costs.
While Luna Rossa supported a less dramatic change, a majority of teams agreed on what has become the America’s Cup Class, a new rule written in consultation with ALL teams, with drafts of the rule sent to ALL teams for comment and feedback.
Each team that voted for this new America's Cup Class made compromises and sacrifices to get this done for the betterment of the America’s Cup.
Taking these important decisions by a majority vote is something that was insisted upon by Luna Rossa and written into the rules of the event.
Regrettably, abiding by the results of the majority vote appears to be something neither they, nor Team New Zealand, are willing to do... unless they are part of the majority.
We hope that Team New Zealand can see a way forward, as we all have, and look forward to racing them in the Americas Cup World Series later this year.
via America's Cup
As an established and strong competitor, Team Luna Rossa’s departure signifies a substantial change in the future direction of the America’s Cup. In a statement released last Thursday, Luna Rossa described their withdrawal to have been prompted by an “evident abuse of process by surreptitious use of procedures to modify the protocol in order to overturn the class rule, which instead requires the unanimity of the teams entered.” Team New Zealand subsequently released their own statement expressing their disappointment in Luna Rossa’s departure, losing an ally that shared their ethos of “fair play and integrity.”
With one less team to compete in the 35th America’s Cup, organisers are hoping their cost cutting updates to the 2017 Protocol and a new Class Rule will inspire new entries. In 2014, Australia's entry withdrew from the competition because of rising costs, but despite the new rule changes, the growing feeling that the event is being organised by a number of self-serving individuals and the division it is causing between teams is making it less likely new teams will want to join in.
Although controversial and unorthodox, the new Protocol and a new Class Rule could cut campaign costs by as much as two thirds. However, with America’s Cup World Series events scheduled to begin in June, it is unclear how the competition will be effected by team Luna Rossa’s late exit and Team New Zealand’s wavering loyalty.
The following America’s Cup World Series events are schedule to take this year:
Cagliari - June 4th - 7th 2015
Portsmouth - July 23th - 26th 2015
Gothenburg - August 28th - 30th 2015
Bermuda - October 16th - 18th 2015
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Image Credit: Wikipedia
Article by Jack Bartrop