Three of Larry Ellison’s racing sailboats placed a five-pound weight in the wrong spot, a rule violation that has caused them to give back two previous seasons of championship trophies,
reports the San Francisco’s Chronicle’s Tom Fitzgerald.
Oracle Team USA made the confession on Friday that it did break the rules. The company is voluntarily giving up its championships, it said.
The overall weight of each boat was correct, but the rules governing weights are fanatically detailed. Where teams place weights is as important as how much overall weight they add to a boat because the placement of the weights can affect how a boat handles, reports FitzGerald.
Just to give you an idea, we’re talking about the misplacement of 5 pounds on a boat that weighs about 12,500 pounds.
The boats involved were the previous racing sailboats, known as AC45s, a class of 45-foot yachts. The current boats are the AC72. AC45s are now only used for training, according to a statement by the Oracle team. But until this year, they were the boats being used in the America’s Cup World Series regattas.
The Oracle teams says that it’s not a bunch of cheaters and that it didn’t deliberately put the 5-pound weights in the wrong spot. Team employees moved the weight over a year ago “without the knowledge of management or the skippers,” the statement says.
Still, it’s another black eye to Ellison’s team in a racing season marred with setbacks. The Oracle team was also fined three practice days earlier this year over a spying violation in New Zealand. A sailor for the Artemis team, Andrew “Bart” Simpson, died in the San Francisco Bay this summer after a practice session with Oracle. Last fall, during a practice season, Ellison’s team wrecked one of the boats, too.