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America's Cup dispute heats up as Prada threatens to not race until hearings

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The long history of the America's Cup has always included rules disputes, some leading to heated negotiations and many ending-up in court. Much more time is spent at the table than on the water, and this 2013 chapter of the event is no exception.

After the tragic loss of Artemis crew member Andrew Simpson earlier this year when the AC72 America's Cup catamaran he was sailing on was destroyed on the San Francisco bay, the AC officials formed a task force charged with improving the safety rules. When the new rules were presented, some challenging teams took exception to some of the changes, accusing the rules-makers of favoring America's Cup defender, Larry Ellison's team Oracle, a charge strongly denied by the rules-makers.

As a result of the new rules, Italy's challenging entry, Prada Luna Rossa, has threatened not to race until their complaints are heard and adjudicated.

The following is the official AC press release, outlining the problem:

"Italy’s Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena said at the opening Skippers’ Press Conference that his team might not take part in Sunday’s first scheduled race of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America's Cup Challenger Series, until the International Jury hears its complaint about the Safety Rules.

“We’re extremely disappointed by this,” said America’s Cup Chief Executive Stephen Barclay. “First and foremost, this is an affront to the fans who’ve been waiting three and half years for the first race.”

The Italian skipper said he would decide on Saturday whether to race or not.

The Safety Rules, generated from the 37 Safety Recommendations created in the wake of the death of Artemis Racing crew member Andrew Simpson on May 9 were agreed in principle by all four teams on May 22. Subsequently, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa said they weren’t happy with two of those recommendations and have challenged the procedure by which they became rules of the regatta by lodging protests with the International Jury.

The International Jury is scheduled to meet on Monday.

“All the challenger boats are in measurement trim and can race,” confirmed Regatta Director Iain Murray. “To win the America’s Cup you have to go out and win races. If you don’t turn up, you don’t win races, you don’t get points, you don’t win the America’s Cup.”

“What everyone will struggle to understand is Sirena saying he’s taking his stance on principle,” added Barclay. “This is the most unprincipled action I can think of because Luna Rossa’s case is before the Jury. There is no reason not to compete, not to try and put the first score of the regatta on the board.

“This gesture has no merit, will not get any sympathy and hurts fans, the other teams, their partners and guests, the city of San Francisco and all our stakeholders too,” Barclay continued.

“I urge Sirena to race. Having the Italian boat on the start line on Sunday is best for everyone, including Luna Rossa.”

Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand said: “We’re here, we’re ready to go racing. Whether Luna Rossa decides to race or not, we’ll be out there, spending time on the race course.” - end of press release.

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