New Zealand's team says new change makes boats dangerous

July 3, 2013 12:21:49 AM PDT
America's Cup contenders are headed for the race course this weekend, but it's the off-the-water fight that is getting the most attention. New Zealand's team says one of the safety changes is actually making the boats more dangerous.

When she's out of the water you can clearly see what all the fuss is about -- winglets on the bottom of the rudders are called elevators. Think of them like the elevators on the tail of airplane.

After the Artemis crash in May, the regatta chairman ruled that increasing the size of the elevators would add stability to the yachts and he also ruled that the elevators could be asymmetrical. One wing could extend outside the frame of the boat.

New Zealand tactician Ray Davies says bending the design rule that much at this late date puts his team at a real disadvantage.

"We've compromised our design to fit within that rule and if that rule is gone, all of a sudden we would want a completely different back end of the boat," said Davies.

But New Zealand can't take the time to redesign the boat. Neither can the Italians because they both start racing this week.

"You'd have to take it out of commission for a couple of weeks to do it properly and we're racing now so we don't have that luxury," said Davies.

Only the U.S. Oracle team has that luxury. Oracle is defending the cup and won't face a challenger until September.

New Zealand's CEO says he can understand increasing the size of the elevators, but extending them beyond the frame of the boat would make them less safe.

"And it might just be simply when the guy eventually falls over the side and slides down it, because he's going to. I mean Spithill has already gone over once, that the elevator cuts him in half," said Grant Dalton-Ceo Emirates Team New Zealand

So New Zealand is filing a protest to the rule change, they say the regatta chair shouldn't be able to changes the design rules without the consent of the teams.

First match race is this Sunday. The protest will be Monday morning.


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