Italians Threaten To Withdraw Over Boat Change

March 26, 2015

Italian challengers Luna Rossa said they are “distinctly opposed to the proposal” to use smaller boats in the America’s Cup, saying “if the principle of unanimity of all challengers required to change the Class Rule were not to be respected Luna Rossa will be obliged to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup.”

This follows after an announcement from the America’s Cup that they plan implement a series of rule changes to “dramatically reduce team operational costs,” primarily by racing in a smaller boat.

“The existing operational costs of teams is much too high with a boat like the AC62,” Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller said. “But now that the teams have seen these new boats in action there is a clear majority of competitors who support the idea. I’d like to be able to say we have unanimous support from all the teams but that is not the case.”

Luna Rossa training in Cagliari in 2014:

Luna Rossa

A statement from the team today [Mar 26] said, “Team Luna Rossa Challenge is distinctly opposed to the proposal – announced today on the official web site of the America’s Cup – to change the Class Rule for the 35th America’s Cup and therefore the boat that was previously accepted by all challengers on June 5th 2014.

“Luna Rossa does not believe that a sporting event should be disputed in a courtroom and does not intend to initiate a lengthy litigation process that would only bring prejudice to the event.

“If the principle of unanimity of all challengers required to change the Class Rule were not to be respected Luna Rossa will be obliged to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup.

“Team Luna Rossa trusts that the Defender will quickly announce a public clarification, also to avoid jeopardizing the organization of the America’s Cup World Series – Cagliari – Sardinia event planned to take place from June 4 to June 7, 2015.”

Following the announcement from Luna Rossa, the New Zealand team signaled their support for the Italian team’s position saying, “Emirates Team New Zealand agrees with Luna Rossa Challenge. It would be unfair to change the rules at this stage unless all America’s Cup teams agree to do so.”

The New Zealand team replying to Luna Rossa on Twitter today

Fullscreen capture 3262015 82046 PM

Six teams are set to compete in the 2017 America’s Cup, including defending champion Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing from Sweden, Ben Ainslie Racing from Great Britain, Emirates Team from New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge from Italy and Team France.

According to the Associated Press it is “believed that the Italians have already spent tens of millions of dollars designing their 62-foot catamaran.”

The AP report continued on to say that in 2013, Luna Rossa sat out the opening race of the challenger trials on San Francisco Bay to protest rules changes, leaving organizers with the “embarrassing scenario of Emirates Team New Zealand sailing around the course alone.”

“The loss of the Italian powerhouse would be a huge blow to an event that’s already struggling to raise corporate sponsorships,” the AP report added.

While the New Zealand and Italian teams are not in full agreement with the changes, the statement from the America’s Cup about the planned changes included supporting comments from three teams – Ben Ainslie Racing, Team France and Artemis Racing.

“For Team France this will be a game-changer,” said skipper Franck Cammas. “We will be able to have a very competitive team for about half the budget. With the smaller boat we can imagine that a budget between €15-20 million would be enough to win the America’s Cup.”

“This will be a big change, but it is a necessary one if we are to create a sustainable America’s Cup for the future,” said Sir Ben Ainslie, the skipper of Ben Ainslie Racing. “These boats will create a significant cost saving whilst still providing a real challenge for sailors and designers alike.”

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Comments (20)

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  1. Coffee says:

    $77 million of our taxpayer money and in- fighting already !
    Grabs bag of popcorn … Let the games begin !

  2. ACACACACAC!! says:

    Looks like if the rules are changed this will have a major impact on the AC. It will surely reduce the number of very key participants & Powerhouse teams. Which is likely to result in an overall loss of money. Will changes be made? WHAT is the status now of the AC?

  3. ACACACACAC !! says:

    What will be the outcome for the AC if it the Powerhouse Teams withdrawal from the AC?

    • Onion says:

      It will make virtually no difference.

      • ACACACACAC says:

        It is highly likely to have an impact. The two Powerhouse teams are a key factor in this race, it will results in less money been made for sure. Lets be real here.

  4. big lad says:

    I would like to think that somewhere in the contract allowing Bermuda to host the event, there must be something that prevents them from changing the event in any way that will change participation levels etc.?

  5. Former Union Member says:

    Welcome to the America’s Cup folks. This is how the game is played. Sailing is only part of the competition. Intrigue and politics ashore and in the courtroom are just as much a factor in who finally shows up to race. The boats being sailed will change, but the bickering has remained constant in every single event. If you are new to AC ‘competition’ it can be a confusing distraction.

    • Onion says:

      Absolutely. I’d encourage people to look up the 1988 and 2010 America’s Cup for some of the history of the controversy. The controversy leading up to the events is often as exciting as the race itself.

  6. Former Union Member says:

    Oh, and the reason New Zealand is supporting the Italians in this was apparently the AC folks had suggested dropping Auckland from the preliminary host locations in addition to downsizing to the 45′s.

  7. Truth is killin' me... says:

    They are babies crying fowl because they did not get what they wanted. They will compete. Just wait and see. All part of their plans to win in the end. Welcome to the America’s Cup!

  8. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    You can not win a sailboat race around the Board room table.

    • Former Union Member says:

      With respect…if the Board Room table determines you are not eligible or they are no longer going to fund you then you will lose the race by virtue of not being there.

  9. MAKE MY DAY says:

    I don’t blame them – as the yanks are always doing things to suit themselves first!!! They can’t stand to lose and even have to use New Zealanders to sail their boats!!

  10. C James says:

    Issues such as this will only add to the publicity and popularity of the event. This is all good for Bermuda. The only naysayers will be the constant PLP losers who complain about absolutely everything and blame the OBA/racism/expats/PRCs/anyone who isn’t a grassroots Bermudian.

  11. bluebird says:

    interesting how you are concerned about the taxpayers dollars but you never come up with any solutions as to how we can pay off the HUGE DEBT that was and still being incured by the previous ADMINISTRATION over 14years.
    This type of money is way above our pay grade and they seem to want to CUT COSTS,can you imagine that.
    But as you appreciate Money Talks and Poop walks.