The 34th America’s Cup is about to get under way in San Francisco. At Artemis Racing, we have had our heads down, working hard to finish a new boat and wing in order to get back out on the water and compete in this event that we have worked hard on for three years.
In general, when you are as busy as we are, you don’t have time to get involved in media and spin. However, some of what is being said is erroneous, insulting, and downright disrespectful. I need to stand up for my team and state some facts.
On May 22, Iain Murray, Regatta Director for the 34th America’s Cup, issued 37 Safety Recommendations. These are the product of interviews of 25 personnel from all four teams, which were conducted by a panel that included just one member associated with a team: Jim Farmer of Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ).
The first person to commend the Safety Recommendations was Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ. He publicly congratulated Murray for his work and said “you won’t get any push back from ETNZ on this”.
Now, five weeks later, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa (LR) have lodged protests over two of the 37 recommendations and seek for these two Safety Recommendations to be eliminated. The two rules are permissive rules. They work hand in hand with other rules, which place new requirements on the size of the elevators. The inclusion of these rules excludes no one. Yet, excluding these rules, and keeping the other 35, will exclude Artemis Racing.
So I ask, who is trying to force whom out of the 34th America’s Cup?
These rules are not about one team. They are about bringing safety to the fleet and the event. The Regatta Director and his panel conducted a thorough and unbiased analysis, and were inclusive in the recommendations and rule changes. There are accusations being cast about that the Regatta Director’s Safety Recommendations are a conspiracy to promote Oracle or Artemis Racing. These are slanderous and paranoid. Iain Murray is a man of the highest integrity and everyone in the sport knows that.
In making the Safety Recommendations at this late stage, Murray needed to make sure all teams could comply with his rule changes. The AC72’s in the fleet are not identical. They are not one design like the AC45’s. So some of the rules, such as minimum draft and the area of the elevators, are requirements. Other rules, like the two in question by ETNZ and LR, are there to create room for teams to comply with the requirements at this late stage of the game.
Artemis Racing doesn’t like all the Safety Recommendations, but we recognize that many of the recommendations work together. Therefore, we have said that we support the entirety of the recommendations. On May 24, in good faith, Artemis Racing began modifications on one set of its rudders and elevators to comply with the Safety Recommendations. These are long lead-time projects. So now Artemis Racing has two sets rudder elevators: one that complies with the Safety Recommendations in their entirety, and one that complies with the rules as they were before the Safety Recommendations were issued. Artemis Racing cannot comply with the third case, which ETNZ and LR are now trying to force on the competition.
The fact is that if ETNZ and LR get what they want, Artemis Racing will be excluded from competition.
The two teams took a similar path to exclude Artemis Racing three weeks ago when they proposed a schedule change that would have started eliminatory racing on July 19, rather than the previously scheduled August 6. They tried to camouflage this move by saying that they were helping Artemis Racing by delaying the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup. It was quite the opposite.
Finally, contrary to what has been said in various sailing media, there never has been a ban on elevators on rudders in the AC72 Class Rule. All AC72’s have rudder elevators because the Class Rule allows them. And ETNZ wasn’t the first to figure out how to foil without elevators. No AC72 has ever foiled without them.
For Artemis Racing, our priority is safety and our goal is to race. Our challenges have been great enough to overcome on their own. We look forward to being out there soon!