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America's Cup: Heavy penalties for Oracle

America's Cup: Heavy penalties for Oracle
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| Yachting News | Wednesday September 4 2013 7:56


UPDATED 3:24pm: Oracle firmly disagree with the unprecedented penalty handed down by the America's Cup jury, which has given Team New Zealand a huge advantage ahead of the start of the regatta.

Oracle will start the Cup on minus-2 points, trimmer Dirk de Ridder has been banned, two other shore crew suspended and the team find for cheating.

FULL DECISIONS: Read the full written decision


Skipper James Spithill says there's no question they're now the underdogs.

"To know four days out from the first race of the America's cup, who your race team is? I don't think anyone else plans that way, I mean Team new Zealand have been sailing for a long long time, their race crew. It's far from ideal."

Team New Zealand is satisfied with the outcome of the jury decision, which has significantly penalised Oracle in the America's Cup.

But team boss Grant Dalton says ultimately if they're not fast enough, Oracle will beat them regardless of starting on minus two points.

Dalton says it changes nothing in terms of their approach to the regatta.

"The jury's done a good job they've been very thorough. As I say, we still gotta win nine races, so other than read it and a few comments at the coffee machine it's really over and done with for us it's not our problem, never was our problem."

Racing starts on Sunday. 

Eleven races for the win

Oracle's been handed heavy penalties for the America's Cup following cheating in the World Series.

The most notable penalty is the holders have been docked two points from the regatta beginning against Team New Zealand on Sunday.

The ruling means the syndicate will have to win 11 races if it's to retain the cup.

Team New Zealand needs to win nine.


Four crew members have also been banned while the holders have been fined US$250,000 to be paid to two charities.

Sailors Dirk de Ridder and Kyle Langford have been banned for the whole regatta, while Kiwi Matt Mitchell will miss four races.

Yachting commentator Peter Montgomery says: "This is a bombshell, it is unprecedented in world sailing."

He says it has rocked the regatta.

"This would be the biggest judgement ever in sailing or America's Cup history."

Commentator Rod Slater says the punishment has huge ramifications.

"I can't recall any incident or decision like this in the history of yachting.

"This is just a massive, massive decision."

Sir Russell takes it on the chin

Sir Russell Coutts is taking Oracle's America's Cup disgrace on the chin.

His syndicate has been docked two points, had four sailors banned from all or part of the finals against Team New Zealand and been fined US$250,000.

This comes after the admission of cheating in the AC45 World Series.

Sir Russell says the infractions only involve a few of their 130 team members and were done without the knowledge of the management or the skippers driving the boats.

He says while they disagree with the unprecedented penalties imposed, they have no choice but to make the necessary personnel changes.

The deduction of points means Oracle has to win 11 races to retain the Cup while Team New Zealand needs to win nine.

de Ridder a big loss

Peter Montgomery says Oracle trimmer and grinder de Ridder is a big loss for the syndicate.

"He is a brilliant sailor, he'd been with Alinghi. He's an outstanding mainsheet trimmer.

"He is the mainsheet trimmer for the wing sail, and that is not a skill you pick up overnight."

He says losing someone of de Ridder's skill will cause serious problems and consternation.

Peter Montgomery says he's shocked that Matt Mitchell's name is amongst the group.

Mitchell is also also a grinder for Oracle.

Two others from the shore crew, Aussie Bryce Ruthernberg and New Zealander Andrew Walker, have been banned from further participation in the Cup.

Oracle's punishment

The decision follows Oracle admitting it cheated by illegally modifying its AC45s used in the America's Cup World Series, held in Europe ahead of the Cup.

Half of the US$250,000 fine will go to the charity set up in the name of the Artemis sailor who was killed on the water, Bart Simpson.

The other half to go to a charity chosen by the mayor of San Francisco.

The jury took into account mitigating factors, saying the penalty would have been harsher if it were not for the cooperation with the investigation, the disruption to the team, the interruption to its two boat sailing programme, and stress and reputation damage to innocent members of the team.

It heard from Oracle chief executive Sir Russell Coutts, who said he was shocked and disappointed, and that the illegal weighting of the AC45s was a stupid thing to do.

This weekend the scoreline is Oracle minus two, Emirates Team New Zealand nil.

Oracle Team USA’s penalties

  • Docked two match points
  • Fined US$250,000 to be paid to charity

    • US$125,000 paid to Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation
    • US$125,000 paid to a charity selected by the Mayor of San Francisco

  • Bryce Ruthenberg - excluded from further participation in the 34th America’s Cup
  • Andrew Walker - excluded from further participation in the 34th America’s Cup
  • Dirk de Ridder - excluded from further participation in the 34th America’s Cup
  • Matt Mitchell (Kiwi) - excluded from sailing in the first four races of the 34th America’s Cup
  • Kyle Langford - warned not to be involved with any activity that may be a breach of the rules.

Photo: Getty Images


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