Substitute hulls for Cup discussed

November 18, 1990|By Peter Baker

The America's Cup Organizing Committee and the Challenger of Record Committee have reached agreement on a number of match conditions for the challengers' regatta and the Cup match off San Diego starting early in 1992.

However, a request by the challengers' (non-American groups) representatives that a change be made in the rules governing the America's Cup series still is under discussion.

Before the America's Cup, the foreign groups (challengers) compete among themselves to determine the best boats and crews, and American groups (defenders) do likewise. Once that order of business has been completed, the two best boats head for the America's Cup, a best-of-seven series of races.

This cup will be sailed in a new, 75-foot International America's Cup Class yachts.

In the past, the rules basically said that the boat that got the challenger there would have to get them through the Cup series as well. Now, however, the challengers are interested in a stipulation that would allow the winner of their elimination series to substitute hulls for the Cup series.

The sticking point, said Tom Ehman, ACOC executive vice president and general manager, is a condition in the Deed of Gift that requires the defender to have 10 months' notice about the boat the challenger will use. The Deed of Gift is the document that has governed the America's Cup for more than 100 years.

The contention of the challengers is that long months of competition may weaken the hulls of their boats and put them at an unfair disadvantage.

The defender, under Cup rules, does not have to reveal which yacht it will sail in the Cup series until it shows up at the starting line. Conceivably, then, the defender could race through the defender trials with one boat and then substitute an identical yacht right out of the box. But that is an unlikely scenario.

A couple of things agreed upon were:

* Dates for the Louis Vuitton Cup (challenger eliminations). Round Robin 1 (worth one point per victory), Jan. 10-23, 1992; Round Robin 2 (four points), Feb. 2-16; Round Robin 3, (eight points), March 1-15; Semifinals (top four boats, nine race round-robin), March 28-April 12; finals (best of seven), April 21-30.

* The initiation of an umpire training program. The competition will be judged on-the-water with penalties assessed on the spot rather than afterward by a protest committee.

* Diane Burton of Annapolis has been elected chairman of the U.S. Women Doublehanded, Singlehanded and Boardsailing Championship Committee by the U.S. Yacht Racing Union. Burton is a naval architect and an avid one-design sailor who won the U.S. women's sailing championship in 1987.

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