Italian Team Plans Protest Over America’s Cup Safety Change

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – With just a week before the start of the preliminary rounds of the America’s Cup, KPIX 5 has learned that the Italian team – Luna Rossa –  will file a protest with the America’s Cup Jury over a rule change requiring rudder modification.

Rules negotiators battled for weeks over a list of safety recommendations prompted by the deadly training crash in May that killed Olympic sailor Andrew Simpson.

For the most part, the recommendations that were reached were not controversial.

“Having a defibrillator in the chase boat, having a guy rigged up with scuba suit, ready to go, having automated crew locators, but the one sticking point, as far as we can tell, the New Zealanders are really hung up by the issue of rudder elevators,” said Andy Turpin of sailing magazine Latitude 38.

Both the New Zealand team and the Italian team have said the rule change requiring rudder elevators violates class rules and protocol, and requires unanimous approval. Neither team approves.

“I want to see these boats have good control of the boats, and whether it be a boat or an airplane, they steer through the rudders, and big rudders steer well,” said Regatta Director Ian Murray.

The required modification adds small wing-like fins on the rudder under water to hold the stern down when the boat is sailing over the waves.

“So if your bow starts to drop and your rudder comes out of the water, you’re in real trouble; you have no way to control the boat,” said Turpin.

However, the larger underwater rudder surface may alter performance. Which is a concern for teams.

“Of course, the teams are now looking at it purely for competitive reasons. Some teams like it. Some teams don’t,” said event CEO Stephen Barclay.

Barclay said the race will go on even if a protest is filed.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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