6 Jul 2013

Italians theaten America's Cup boycott

4:41 pm on 6 July 2013

The skipper of Luna Rossa says the Italian team will boycott the America's Cup yacht race until a jury rules on its protest against a last-minute change to a rudder design rule.

Max Sirena says Luna Rossa will not take to the San Francisco Bay waters on Monday for the first scheduled race, against Team New Zealand, if the international jury is still pondering objections filed by both teams.

But Sirena went on to say that Luna Rossa was at the 34th America's Cup to race and would likely take part in the event even if the jury doesn't back his team's protest in a decision expected to be handed down on Tuesday.

Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa contend that regatta director Iain Murray exceeded his authority in some of the 37 safety rule proposals in the wake of British sailor Andrew Simpson's death in May.

New Zealand team skipper Dean Barker is promising to be out there whether Luna Rossa decides to race or not.

The focus of the stand-off between Murray and protesting teams is a design rule change to catamaran elevators, a part of the rudder that affects how high boats can rise out of the water and, by extension, how fast they can go.

Luna Rossa argues rule changes focused on boat design fall under the category of 'class' changes that can't be implemented without unanimous agreement from competitors.

Rivals have complained that Oracle was handed an advantage by the change because it has trained with the new design.

To complicate matters further, the catamaran that Artemis is hurrying to build to join the racing is being made with a rudder designed to meet the changed rule and will be out of compliance if Luna Rossa gets its way.