Historic Cup Penalty

What was already destined to be a difficult defense has become exponentially more difficult following the jury ruling on Oracle’s cheating during the AC45 World Series
Author:
Updated:
Original:

What was already destined to be a difficult defense has become exponentially more difficult following a jury ruling on Oracle’s cheating during the AC45 World Series.

AC45s-600x

Saying the “seriousness of the breaches [committed by Team Oracle] cannot be overstated,” the five-member jury ruled on Tuesday that Oracle will be penalized two points, and that trimmer Dirk de Ridder, of the Netherlands, and two shore crew will be banned from the regatta. Oracle must also pay $250,000 in fines, half to a memorial fund established following the death last spring of Artemis strategist Andrew “Bart” Simpson.

The ruling means that in order to win the best-of-17 America’s Cup series, set to begin Saturday, September 7, Oracle must win 11 as opposed to nine races against challenger Emirates Team New Zealand.

Equally serious, if not more so, is the loss of de Ridder, one of the best trimmers in the world and a critical member of Oracle’s multi-year development program. Given how important the wing trimmer is to ensuring effective foiling, boat handling and overall boat speed aboard an AC72, it’s hard to imagine skipper Jimmy Spithill being able to manage the Oracle boat as well without him. According to reports, he will be replaced by the trimmer for the campaign’s second boat, Kyle Langford, who was also formally warned by the jury for his role in the affair.

At issue in the case are a number of illegal modifications made to the AC45 catamarans sailed by Team Oracle during the America’s Cup World Series leading up to the AC72 racing this summer. Specifically, it was found that weights had been added to the boats and that each boat’s structural “main king post” had been lengthened, which according to ETNZ would allow the Oracle sailors to better control the forestay tension on their boats. To see the complete jury findings, click here 

In mid-August, shortly after the illegal modifications were revealed in the run-up to the ongoing Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, team Oracle withdrew “retrospectively” from the last four AC World Series regattas, in the hope it could put the matter behind itself.

However, ETNZ and Luna Rossa pressed ahead with their protest, saying the Defender had violated Article 60 of the protocol governing the 34 America’s Cup, which prohibits the competitors from doing anything that would discredit or impair public confidence in the regatta—language that was ironically inserted in the protocol to protect the event from any bad publicity.

In a statement afterward, Oracle CEO Russell Coutts said he disagreed with the “unprecedented penalties” imposed by the jury, adding: “We have no choice but to make the necessary changes to personnel on our race boat and do our best to…get ready for the start of the 34th America's Cup."

However, the reality is that Coutts and company may have actually gotten off pretty easy, with the jury suggesting in its finding that the only reason it’s punishment was not greater was a belief that the outcome of the match “should best be determined on the water” and that if it had not been for this this mitigating factor “the penalty would have been heavier.”

One thing’s for sure: this Cup is surely shaping up to be less and less like what Coutts and his boss, Larry Ellison, originally had in mind. 

Related

01-GMR19FP45_1194

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

With new catamaran brands springing up like mushrooms, France’s Fountaine Pajot is something of an oak tree in the market, with a story that goes back to its founding in 1976. It is also one of the largest cat builders out there, sending some 600 boats down the ways in 2018. The ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Take no Chances This is my stern with the engine running slowly in gear against the lines. We all know that when we’re charging batteries this lets the engine warm up thoroughly. However, I have a ...read more

062110BTSN-5870-2048

Exotic Charters

If anyone tells you that they plan to sail into the sunset and live on $5 a day because they’ll be “world cruising,” you may want to remind them that in most places today, you can’t even get a $5 margarita. The world has grown smaller since adventurous couples like Hal and ...read more

Lead01-190709_1138-(1)

Racing: 12-Metre Worlds

In July, 22 12-Metres from six countries gathered in Newport, Rhode Island, for the quadrennial the 12-Metre World Championship—the second-largest 12-Metre gathering ever, only topped by the America’s Cup Jubilee in Cowes, England, in 2001. The famed class is best known as the ...read more

01-LEAD-082212PINE-6741

Naval Architect Philippe Briand

It’s not often that a Frenchman urges Americans to take more chances. With its 35-hour workweek and comprehensive social security net, France can make America look like the land of hazard and reward. To celebrated French naval architect Philippe Briand, though, who has seen more ...read more

shutterstock_208692541-2048x

Chartering in the Virgin Islands

If you like the thought of easy sailing, affordable travel costs and a low hassle factor, you can’t beat the Virgin Islands for a wondrous winter charter. Whether you’re headed to the Spanish, British or U.S. Virgins, here are some tips on chartering in a tropical paradise ...read more

c57-ex-02-hi-res

Boat Review: Bavaria C57

There is much new going on at Bavaria Yachts. Only a few months under new ownership and the German builder has already launched a new flagship—the C57, which presumably will be the template for future models, including possibly an even larger boat than this one. We sailed the ...read more