Early last month, sailing’s Oracle Team USA
confessed to breaking the rules by placingsome five-pound weights in the wrong spots on its boat.
Now a jury for the America’s Cup has imposed severe penalties on the team, harsher than any in the race’s 162-year-old history, reports Reuters Ronnie Cohen.
The jury docked the team two “points” and kicked three people off the team. Oracle also has to pay $US250,000 to two charitable foundations.
The America’s Cup finals are a series of 17 races. Those two points mean that Oracle will need to win 11 races while its competitor, Emirates Team New Zealand, will only need to win 9.
The boats involved in the scandal are not the same ones racing in the America’s Cup finals. These are smaller, 45-foot catamarans used in a previous, qualifying racing series and are now only used for training.
The weights were found when the boats were used for a youth competition this summer. Bags of lead and resin were discovered stuffed into the frames, Cohen reports.
The rules governing weights in the America’s Cup are fanatically detailed because the placement of weight can influence the performance of a boat.
The Oracle team said that the overall weight of each boat was correct, performance was not influenced, and that these weights were put there by a team employee “without the knowledge of management or the skippers.”
The team then voluntarily gave back the two championship titles won with the boats.
But the jury clearly wasn’t satisfied with that. “The incidents are serious and unprecedented in the America’s Cup,” the jury said in its report.
Despite this latest setback and embarrassment, observers are still expecting an exciting, competitive racing series that begins on Saturday.
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