America's Cup: Oracle's 'trespassing' protest withdrawn

By Paul Lewis

Oracle Team USA has today withdrawn its protests against Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa for "trespassing".

At a preliminary hearing of the America's Cup international jury, OTUSA sought leave to withdraw the protest, granted by the jury.

Allegations by OTUSA that Emirates Team New Zealand had trespassed to gather information were dismissed by the team as "laughable" yesterday. Team NZ said Oracle was using the protest to confuse issues ahead of the jury hearings on allegations of gross misconduct by Oracle team members under rule 69 of the Racing Rules of Sailing.

A further hearing under Article 60 of the Protocol will determine whether Oracle had engaged in conduct detrimental to the America's Cup.

That involves allegations that illegal weights were found on board OTUSA AC45s used in a warm-up series. There been rumours throughout America's Cup and sailing circles that there may have been more allegedly illegal modifications to Oracle AC45s than has come to light so far in the allegations of cheating.

It may be that OTUSA thought some Italian and New Zealand team members may have been crawling over their boats looking for evidence.

If it wasn't for that reason, the motive for OTUSA's protest had some seasoned Cup veterans scratching their heads in puzzlement. The AC45s were parked, on display, right on an easily accessible area of Piers 30-32 - which houses the Luna Rossa and ETNZ bases. They were being lined up for the Red Bull Youth America's Cup - a 10-boat regatta involving promising young sailors, beginning on September 1.

There would also be little or nothing for team members to find, especially as the boats had been cleaned up ready for the new regatta. Unlike the AC72s, the AC45s are identical - meaning anyone seeking information on boat build and design would be wasting their time.

That's why ETNZ called the protest "laughable", implying that the protest seemed to be an attempt to embroil competitors - particularly Emirates Team New Zealand - in the same sort of strife enveloping the Oracle team at present; or a diversionary tactic.

Certainly "trespass" seemed a quaint notion in circumstances where the boats are laid out in the competitors' back yard, on display.

- NZ Herald

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