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Stars & Stripes Punished By Jury Precedent

Information courtesy of www.louisvuittoncup.com

An Americas Cup International Jury has ruled that Stars & Stripes was in breach of "Avoiding Contact" rules in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series.

Yachting syndicates from around the world are battling to become the challenger for the Americas Cup.

The Auld Mug [ Americas Cup trophy] is currently held by New Zealand.

Stars & Stripes is lead by "Mr Americas Cup" Dennis Conner. Conner's team is lagging behind in Round Robin 1. The syndicate also came under pressure this week after Paul Cayard's America One team protest issued on Friday.

The jury has now decided to protest Dennis Conner's team.

There was a pre-start incident in the match between AmericaOne and Stars & Stripes sailed last Saturday. Both boats hit. The on the water umpires penalized Stars and Stripes for breaking Rule.

Rule 11: On the same tack overlapped:
When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

As a consequence Stars & Stripes had to execute a penalty turn. The damaged AmericaOne went on to win that race and crossed the finish line with the protest flag flying.

With that flag, Cayard of AmericaOne was requesting that the International Jury delay his team's next races to enable repairs to be carried out to his damaged boat. After a hearing, the jury granted the delay and all racing were rescheduled to Wednesday 27 October.

As a result of the evidence heard in the same hearing the Jury decided to protest Stars & Stripes for a Rule 14 infringement.

Rule 14: Avoiding contact
A boat shall avoid contact with another boat if reasonably possible..........

Paul Cayard, representing AmericaOne at that hearing, said he had not considered a Rule 14 protest against Stars & Stripes.

A hearing is a meeting of the International jury and the parties involved. Sometimes witnesses are heard. Normally a hearing results in three things. First the facts are established, then the conclusion is based on those facts and finally the decision which the Jury will take. At the hearing of the jury against Stars & Stripes, the following facts were found:

AmericaOne luffed higher than Stars & Stripes to approximately close hauled, giving Stars & Stripes room of at least six metres to keep clear.

Stars & Stripes bore away with the intention of passing astern of AmericaOne and then held her course for two seconds before contact with AmericaOne.

Stars & Stripes' bow struck AmericaOne's starboard quarter approximately two metres from her stern, causing serious damage to AmericaOne.

The jury concluded that Stars & Stripes was in breach of Rule 14.

The jury decided to deduct half a point from Stars & Stripes' overall score in Round Robin One.

With this decision the jury sets a precedent which emphasises that a collision resulting in serious damage should be avoided at all time. The Jury will not hesitate to punish boats that break Rule 14.

The Jury has the right under match race Rule C6.3b to impose a penalty of any extent. In this case it is a light punishment but in the next Round Robin it might be more severe.

Brian Willis Chairman of the International Jury explained, 'It is coincidental that 0.5 point is half of what you can win in Round Robin One. We can decide how much we want to penalise depending on the gravity of the situation'.

C6.3b If the protest committee decides that a breach of a rule has had no significant effect on the outcome of the match it may
1. Impose a penalty of one point or part of one point,
2. Order a resail or
3 Make another arrangement it decides is equitable, which may be to impose no penalty.

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