Following further accusations of cheating by both teams in the competition, the International Sailing Federation (ISF) has announced today that the remaining 6-13 races of the America’s Cup will be determined not in the San Francisco Bay, but rather in court.
Before the competition began last Saturday, cup defenders Oracle Team USA had already been penalized by the international sailing body for weighting their boat with “too much money.” Under the federation’s rules, competitors are allowed to strap a maximum of $15 million cash to each individual part of their boat.
The first races of the cup proceeded without incident, with challengers Team New Zealand winning all three comfortably. But in the fourth race, Oracle made a surprise comeback, narrowly taking out their first win of the competition, and are now being accused by their opponents of using a fabric-based wind propulsion system that has not been explicitly authorized by the ISF.
Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said it was “extremely curious” that in the first three races, their boat went faster, “but then all of a sudden we get to the fourth race and, hold on, now their boat’s faster.”
“We knew then that something wasn’t right,” he said.
Barker believes Oracle’s use of specially designed fabrics that harness the power of wind may have had something to do with their sudden change in fortune, and has been lobbying for the ISF to take a closer look at the matter.
The federation responded to Team New Zealand’s request today, saying that the only fair way to resolve the competition was now to break down the physics and other complexities of the upcoming races in strictly theoretical fashion before an international jury.
In the coming months, each individual race will be determined in separate court proceedings, and both teams will be given the chance to bring in experts to convince the jury why their respective boats would have won had the races actually occurred.
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton welcomed the ISF’s decision, saying it would put the emphasis of the competition on the part of sailing that mattered most: “the money.”
The losers of the America’s Cup will be fined $50 million dollars, be banned from sailing ever again, and have the right to only ten appeals.