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Jury To Rule On "Black Magic" Communications

Ameica's Cup 2000 Release

The International Jury convened at 19:00 hours on Tuesday to rule on whether a communications system on board Team New Zealand is in full compliance with America’s Cup Match Condition 19.1.

Team New Zealand has rigged up an earpiece communication system on NZL-60 that allows crew on the front of the boat to hear instructions and communications from the afterguard. The system is designed to counteract noise from helicopters hovering above the race course.

Match Condition 19.1 says that boats cannot have a communication system that is capable of receiving signals from off the boat - external communications. Team New Zealand says its system is a closed circuit that doesn’t contravene the rule.

The International Jury has inspected the system and issued an interim decision that states that the equipment complies with the rules. Team New Zealand has requested a formal interpretation from the Jury, which precipitated the scheduled meeting tonight.

The International Jury had stated that regardless of the outcome of the hearing tonight, the results from Race One on Sunday, and Race Two today, will stand.

At the hearing, Prada presented a submission that asked the Jury to rule the system illegal, and stop Team New Zealand from using it in future races. The submission notes that the system uses wireless ear receivers that by definition must be capable of receiving outside broadcasts. Prada did not claim that the Kiwis were in fact receiving outside assistance, but noted that all other teams have used a more restrictive 'hard-wired' system that is less convenient than the New Zealand one. The Italians say they are at a disadvantage because they have complied to the letter of the rule, while Team New Zealand has a comparative advantage.

"The Challenger (Prada) emphasises that Match Condition 19.1 is drawn specifically to avoid even the risk of a racing yacht's crew having access by such means to external communications. It is the potentiality, not the actuality, to which the wording of the rule is clearly directed...it is (our) submission that the Jury should at least direct the Defender to discontinue use of the system."

The International Jury will rule on Wednesday morning.

*****************************************

Before Race Two, both the Prada Challenge, and Team New Zealand, gave Race Director Harold Bennett permission to wait until 1600 hours before calling off racing for the day.

On Race Day One, Bennett was forced by the Match Conditions to abandon racing for the day at 1500 hours due to light winds. But later in the afternoon, the wind picked up, and a good breeze settled over the Hauraki Gulf late in the afternoon. Bennett said he wasn't permitted to wait unless both the Challenger and the Defender agreed. After Race One was eventually sailed a day later, that permission was extended for the rest of the America's Cup Match.

- Peter Rusch

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