Sir Ben Ainslie has suggested it is time for America’s Cup syndicates to “put up or shut up” when it comes to filing complaints about their competitors’ vessels.
Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK were stung with a complaint of non-compliance after the first weekend of Prada Cup racing by a fellow competitor. The complaint was upheld and the British syndicate were issued with a ‘strike’.
Should they receive another, they will be disqualified from an upcoming race.
While Ainslie wouldn’t go into details about what the complaint related to, Team UK were fined $5000 and had the outhaul system on their mainsail prohibited after Luna Rossa lodged a complaint of non-compliance after the opening day of racing last week.
“In this game, when there’s a new class of boat, it’s a tricky one because there’s a relative amount of greyness in how things are measured and we’re obviously relying massively on the measurement team to scrutinise our boat before we’re given a certification for a round, but sometimes they miss something or sometimes a competitor asks a question about something that they notice,” Ainslie said.
“So, we are on one strike. We actually think now we are three weeks into this competition, perhaps it’s time for the teams to say ‘OK, why don’t we all look at our boats, have them scrutinised again as they have to be each round, and say it’s time to either put up or shut up if you like in terms of complaints’.
“Because to be disqualified for something that is not performance enhancing, when you race at this level, I don’t think that’s how the game should be played.”
Ainslie said he would be bringing the issue up at a meeting between the syndicates’ skippers this week with the hopes of coming to a resolution before the start of the do or die component of the regatta.
“I think it’s a potential issue for all the teams, actually,” Ainslie said.
“Not just ourselves, but Team New Zealand as the Defenders, and I think we would like to see the teams come together and review it because, OK, we’re the ones with an issue, we’re the one team who have got a ‘yellow card’ if you like, but it could very easily be any of the other teams and I think these complaints that can be thrown in against one another can be a little bit churlish and, whilst it makes no difference to the performance of the boat, you end up being compromised.
“I don’t think that’s how the game should be played.”
With a win over Luna Rossa on Saturday, Ineos Team UK progressed into the Prada Cup final and will have two weeks before their next races.
Next weekend, Luna Rossa will meet American Magic in the Prada Cup semifinals, with the winner of the best of seven series moving on to the final of the Challengers Series the following week.
The semifinals begin on Friday, with two races scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with race seven set for next Monday should it be required.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.
• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.
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