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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

America's Cup Director Threatens Race

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 3:45 PM


The director of the America's Cup, Iain Murray, reportedly said he will inform the U.S. Coast Guard that he doesn't believe the race is safe enough to go forward with, unless of course all of his 37 safety recommendations are upheld by the Cup's international jury.

Murray called a briefing today in S.F. to explain the finer points of his recommendations, which he issued in late May following the death of Artemis sailor Andrew Simpson who died in a drowning accident.

Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy's Luna Rossa have challenged Murray's rule changes regarding rudder elevators on the catamarans. Rudder elevator issues are one of few safety changes that are still being debated of the proposed 37 recommendations.

If the international jury, which meets on Monday, agrees with Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa that the rule changes are too far reaching and too close to the start of the Cup races, Murray says he wouldn't be able to consider the race safe.

"I can't stand by and honestly tell them with my hand on my heart...that the rules have changed, and this is safe," Murray was quoted saying in the New Zealand Herald.

If the USCG gets word the regatta director doesn't think the boats are safe, it could very well put the entire race in jeopardy. However, Mike Lutz, spokesperson for the USCG, says nothing is automatic.

"The safety of the event is the responsibility of the event organizers," Lutz said, so any changes they make to their safety requirements would still have to be reviewed.

The heads of Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have both said they believe the rudder changes are unnecessary and give unfair advantage to the Oracle Artemis team, while Murray has strongly rebuffed those comments.

Tom Ehman, America's Cup Director of External Affairs and Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, says those two teams are simply creating the usual "buff and bluster" that goes along with an approaching Cup race.

Ehman called the protest "absolute rubbish."

"These teams at the 11th hour are trying to change the rules by protesting," he continued.

Ehman says the bottom line is this race creates a huge liability situation, and without the "important" safety changes in place, it will most likely not run.

"If there was another accident, how is that going to go down in the court of law?," Ehman said.

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