Italy’s Luna Rossa pulls out of America’s Cup

Italy’s Luna Rossa team has withdrawn from the 35th America’s Cup over a recent “illegitimate” vote that allowed a significant rule change – allowing smaller, AC45 boats – to be introduced with majority support rather than as a unanimous decision.

Luna Rossa said the rule change was “founded on an evident abuse of process by surreptitious use of procedures to modify the Protocol in order to overturn the Class Rule, which instead requires the unanimity of the teams entered”.

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The Luna Rossa statement reads: “All of the above contributes to a lack of credibility and uncertain technical grounds for what should instead be the most sophisticated sailing competition in the world.

“This radical change also implies a waste of important resources already invested based on the rules that were sanctioned in June last year. This means that the claim to reduce costs reveals itself as a pure pretext aimed to annihilate research and development achievements of some teams, and to favor instead preconceived technical and sporting positions by means of changing the most important element in the competition, the boat.”

Last week, when America’s Cup organisers proposed to swap the agreed AC62s for smaller, cheaper AC45s, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand “distinctly opposed” the move. They argued that any proposed rule changes should be unanimously accepted by all participating teams.

The future of Emirates Team New Zealand is also under threat.

“We absolutely support cost-cutting; it makes total sense, we’re all for that,” explained Grant Dalton, managing director of Emirates Team New Zealand, in a video statement. “But the proposal was to go down to AC45s… and lose Auckland as a qualifier.”

As Dalton explains, it’s already been agreed that Auckland will host a qualifier race and the paperwork has been signed. If the New Zealand capital loses the opportunity to host the challenger event, the government made it clear they wouldn’t support the team in their America’s Cup bid.

“It’s an easy decision for us… we absolutely need Auckland as a qualifier,” Dalton concluded.

Watch Dalton
’s statement in the video below:

While few dispute the changes could benefit the America’s Cup in the long term, many have questioned whether organisers should be trying to move the goal posts at such a late stage in the game.

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