Yachting: Artemis veto may be illegal

By Dana Johannsen

Emirates Team New Zealand's high-powered AC72 catamaran in action. Photo / AP
Emirates Team New Zealand's high-powered AC72 catamaran in action. Photo / AP

The international jury may be asked to step in to rule on a stoush between the America's Cup challengers after Artemis vetoed a proposal from Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa to alter the racing schedule.

With the Swedish team indicating they would not be ready for racing until late July and the Louis Vuitton Cup in danger of becoming a two-boat farce, the two race-ready challengers proposed to delay the start of the round-robin series until July 19. Artemis rejected this proposal, as they believed it would put them under more time pressure.

But questions are being asked as to whether Artemis had the right of veto in this instance. Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton believes Artemis - whose programme has been marred by the crash that killed Andrew Simpson and wrote off their boat - has improperly used their position as challenger of record to impose a solution the majority of teams do not want.

"Normally the challenger series of an America's Cup is run on terms that meet the wishes of the majority of challengers," he said.

"This is not the case here with Artemis rejecting the proposal and wanting to continue running an event schedule in which ... they will not compete in in the early stages."

Sail World are reporting the matter is expected to be referred to the international jury for mediation or a full hearing, unless the parties can resolve their issues internally. Team NZ was not immediately available for comment.

The latest development comes after a testy exchange of press releases from the two syndicates.

Unhappy with Dalton's comments in a Herald on Sunday story, in which the Team NZ boss hit out Artemis for vetoing attempts to create a more credile racing schedule, Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard fired back, claiming Dalton's comments were out of line and unsportsmanlike.

"Dalton's proposals...make it even harder for us to compete. To shorten an already tight timeline is clearly not acceptable to us, as to any team in the same position. Dalton's proposals benefit no team but his own, and his public insults are out of line and unsportsmanlike," Cayard said in a statement.

"We are doing our best to recover and our target is to be ready for racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup's semifinals on August 6, if not earlier. In the meantime, the race schedule should remain unchanged and the derogatory analogies should be left on the dock."

Team NZ quickly followed up with a statement of their own, saying their joint proposal with Luna Rossa was "done so in the hope of enhancing the event with a full muster of boats from the beginning, and therefore, placing more importance on the racing from the first race, something for which fans and sponsors are craving right now".

Dalton also proposed a weighting system for points, with later races worth more points.
"Obviously it was assumed that 10 weeks after the Artemis tragedy, that having previously taken delivery of their second AC72 they would be ready to race. This is not the case."

The Team New Zealand-Luna Rossa proposal would have seen racing start July 19 and would have encompassed only a three-team round robin, with the two top syndicates going through to the Louis Vuitton final - cutting out the semifinal. That may still have seen some Artemis-less racing but would have greatly reduced it.

If the newly revised racing schedule released by the America's Cup event authority last week remains, there will be just five races held between July 7-28. The winner of the round-robin series between Team NZ and Luna Rossa will go straight through to the Louis Vuitton final, with the loser to take on Artemis in the 'semifinal'.

With substantial sponsor obligations spread over the duration of the regatta, the changes to the race format will have major financial and logistical implications for Team NZ.

- NZ Herald

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