Sailing-New Zealand to appeal late America's Cup rule changes

WELLINGTON, June 28 Thu Jun 27, 2013 7:38pm EDT

WELLINGTON, June 28 (Reuters) - Team New Zealand will appeal late changes to the America's Cup sailing regatta in San Francisco following a fatal training accident by Swedish challenger Artemis in May.

Team New Zealand (TNZ) said they would ask the America's Cup jury to determine whether regatta director Iain Murray had exceeded his jurisdiction in unilaterally changing the AC72 class rules.

The four teams competing for the Cup have been meeting with mediators to reach an agreement on 37 safety measures that Murray was seeking to introduce following the death of Artemis crewman Andrew Simpson.

TNZ said they agreed with all but two of the rule changes, which related to additional weight and the use of a piece of equipment called rudder elevators that control the high-tech super-fast AC72 catamarans when they hydro-foil.

"Changes to the rule so close to the start of racing require the unanimous consent of all eligible competitors," TNZ said in a statement on Friday.

"Team New Zealand supports all the other safety recommendations, which have now been approved by competitors, including the reduction of wind limits and various new rules to ensure enhanced crew safety.

"However it is our view that the contentious class rule changes are performance-related rules not necessary to ensure safety."

Italian challengers Luna Rossa said earlier this week they also believed the changes affecting the rudder-elevators were performance and not safety-related.

TNZ said the jury had jurisdiction over the issue and their decision would be binding.

"We look forward to the jury determining the issue so, whatever the decision is, we can get on with the racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup starting July 7," TNZ managing director Grant Dalton said.

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