One Week To Go

Decisions by the Arbitration Panel headline the final countdown to the Louis Vuitton Cup

To help clear the stage for the lead actors, the America’s Cup arbitration panel took care of a few loose ends before the curtain opens. Last June, the Prada syndicate filed a lawsuit in New Zealand against OracleBMW Racing, claiming that a barge owned by Oracle overlapped the property lines between the two bases in the Viaduct basin. Oracle immediately filed a submission to the America’s Cup arbitration panel stating that Prada was in violation of Article 10.2 of the Protocol. The essence of rule 10.2 is that any challenger which uses any court or tribunal other than the AC Arbitration Panel would be ineligible to race.

On Friday, Sept. 19, the Arbitration Panel–finally free from worries of being sued by any syndicate it ruled against–determined that while Prada had breached the provisions of Article 10.2 of the Protocol, they would be allowed to race after paying $10,000 in fines and an unknown amount of costs.

The Arbitration panel also ruled on three other issues before it: Determining that the nationality requirements of a GBR Challenge team member were met, ruling that a member of a design team registered with a defunct challenge could not join one of the current challengers as a crewmember; and a clarification of what the Cup Protocol means by “fabricated and assembled.”


In an interview with Julie Ash, a reporter for the New Zealand Herald, Russell Coutts, skipper of the Swiss Alinghi Challenge, had some interesting comments about some other team’s designs. “It looks like Great Britain have gone for a tandem keel on their boat by the position of the mast and the way they lift the boat in and out of the water,” said Coutts. “So they have gone back to a keel possibly like what NZL-20 had in 1995.”

Coutts also held forth on two of the American teams. “Oracle have the most radical boats, probably. They are narrow and probably light in displacement,” he said. “Stars and Stripes have an interesting boat. It is narrower than anyone else’s; way narrower than Oracle’s.”

Some teams are going to great lengths to mislead their competitors. Victory Challenge recently posted a story on their website about a presentation made to the team’s head boatbuilder, Chris Mellow. With the news release is an image of Mellow being presented with half hull models of Orn and Orm. The model on the left is strikingly different from the model on the right, primarily because it bears what appears to be a forward rudder. Upon closer examination, the image appears to have been altered, supposedly to spoof the opposition.


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