Genial Aussie Iain Murray set for powerful America's Cup role

BIG ROLE: Australian sailing stalwart Iain Murray is set to step into the crucial role of regatta director for the 2017 ...
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BIG ROLE: Australian sailing stalwart Iain Murray is set to step into the crucial role of regatta director for the 2017 America's Cup.

Australian America's Cup stalwart Iain Murray is set to step into the crucial role of regatta director for the 2017 edition to be hosted by Bermuda and will face an immediate challenge.

The new director was expected to be named yesterday when Bermuda was unveiled as the venue for the 35th edition of sport's oldest trophy.

But America's Cup Commissioner Dr Harvey Schiller said that while a selection had been made final touches to the contract were being completed that prevented the director being named.

Fairfax Media understands that man is Murray, the former America's Cup sailor who was regatta director for the last event in San Francisco.

Murray stepped aside from that role to head Australia's surprise challenge for the next cup when his Hamilton Island Yacht Club was appointed as Challenger of Record.

When they withdrew in July, citing financial reasons and frustrations with the process, Murray was freed up to be approached for this broader role.

The genial Murray's working relationships with both defender Oracle Team USA and the challengers who are backing up from San Francisco make him an obvious and popular choice.

But he will have issues on his hands, primarily smoothing the waters between the America's Cup bosses and the International Sailing Federation over the vexed issue of a lack of an international jury.

The protocol for the next America's Cup has replaced the international jury with an arbitration panel.

That goes against every major international regatta in the world which runs a jury system.

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America's Cup bosses appear to have taken their event – sailing's biggest showpiece - outside the boundaries of the sport's governing body.

The jury has historically played a key role in the event.

Oracle were outspoken in condemning the jury at the last event for the tough penalties they dished out to the Americans – fines and bans - for cheating in the buildup world series regattas sailed in the smaller 45-foot catamarans.

Murray did an admirable job in difficult circumstances in San Francisco.

He had to deal with the training death of Artemis Racing's Andrew "Bart" Simpson and while some of the subsequent restrictions may have gone too far, safety issues were paramount to his thinking.

He also had the frustration of working a regatta into a time schedule dictated by restrictive TV schedules, and also compromised by the lowered wind range.

 - Stuff

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