Pressure on America's Cup syndicates on rules

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 08:30 20/06/2013
America's Cup
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PRESSURE ON: America's Cup organisers have put some not-so-subtle pressure on the four syndicates over safety and rule changes.

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America's Cup organisers have put some not-so-subtle pressure on the four syndicates as they prepare to sit down today to try to sort out their differences over the safety and rule changes that are seen as essential to the regatta starting next month.

Holders Oracle and challengers Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa (Italy) and Artemis Racing (Sweden) have been unable to agree on the 37 recommendations made following the death of Artemis crew member Andrew Simpson in a training capsize last month.

They will front two international jurors - one is New Zealander lawyer Graham McKenzie - over the next two days in a mediation process seen as crucial to the regatta.

That's because the regatta organisers attached the recommendations to their outlines for the regatta, in their submission to the United States Coastguard who must issue a permit for racing to be held.

If that fails to go through, then the July 7 start to racing, with Team New Zealand due to take on Luna Rossa in the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup series, is under a serious cloud.

On the eve of the mediation process, the America's Cup Event Authority's (ACEA) chief executive Stephen Barclay issued a long statement explaining the procedures needed, including the crucial element of satisfying the coastguard.

Barclay said the coastguard had made it clear safety was the ACEA's responsibility.

He quoted the coastguard as writing: "If the district commander or the captain of the port has concerns that the event sponsor will be unable to ensure the safety of the participants then the application should be denied unless the event sponsor provides additional information, in writing, that demonstrates to the satisfaction of the coastguard that the sponsor has a safety plan in place that will mitigate these concerns."

The safety recommendations require a majority agreement among the four teams.

Artemis' decision to drop out of the first phase of the Louis Vuitton Cup and only enter in the semifinals in August, has angered both Team New Zealand and the Italians and that appears to be a major sticking point.

If mediation process does not work then Barclay says regatta director Iain Murray can ask the full international jury of five members "for a determination that the competitors be required to satisfy all 37 safety recommendations".

Barclay said: "I think Iain will be successful with the jury - maybe not in mediation but with the determination.

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"In a couple of weeks we will see."

But a "couple of weeks" takes the decision-making right to the wire on the present schedule.

- Fairfax Media

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