America’s Cup: Oracle Team Accused Of Cheating, Ordered To Return Trophies

Oracle Team USA, the defending America’s Cup champion, is being investigated by the regatta’s International Jury for alleged illegal modifications the team made to its boats during exhibition races in 2012 and earlier this year.

Oracle has been ordered to return the trophies that the team won in the America’s Cup World Series races, which took place in San Francisco and Rhode Island last year and in Italy this past April.

The jury is investigating a report that the team’s three AC45 boats had additional weight in the forward king posts of the vessels in violation of race rules.

The modifications were recently discovered during inspections of the boats for the upcoming Red Bull Youth America’s Cup.

The report, written by the regatta’s Measurement Committee, concluded that the modifications “appear to be intentional efforts to circumvent the limitations of the AC45 class rule, and are therefore serious in nature.”

The jury wrote on Thursday that it is investigating the incident under Rule 69, which covers “allegations of gross misconduct.”

The rules stipulate that the jury can ban a person or boat from future races if it finds misconduct was committed.

Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts wrote in an email to the jury that he “had no knowledge whatsoever that the boat was being raced out of measurement. I am deeply disappointed by this incident and will do all I can to assist the relevant parties in any future investigations.”

Oracle Team USA has retroactively withdrawn from the events, Coutts wrote.

The team says that the modifications had no impact on race performances and were made by a small number of team members without the knowledge of management or the team’s skippers.

The 45-foot boats are separate from the 72-foot vessels being used in the Louis Vuitton Cup currently under way to decide who will face Oracle in the America’s Cup Finals next month.

Leaders of Emirates Team New Zealand, the favorites to win the Louis Vuitton Cup and take on the American team, expressed surprise at the revelations regarding their opponents.

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said in a statement, “I find it difficult to believe that what we learned … actually happened at the top level of our sport.”

The New Zealand team is facing Luna Rossa Challenge, an Italian team, in the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup starting this Saturday.

The investigation into the Oracle team is the latest challenge in what has been a troubled run for the America’s Cup races in San Francisco.

Artemis Racing, a Sweden-based team, had a sailor die when the team’s boat capsized during a practice run in May, prompting new safety reforms to be implemented for the races.

There were also only three challengers vying to compete against Oracle for the America’s Cup—far fewer than regatta organizers had initially anticipated. The downsizing has been coupled with struggles to raise enough funds to repay the city for costs related to the races.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • Bluewatersailor

    The Oracle infraction was self reported by Russell Coutts. It was not a top down attempt to gain unfair advantage in the World Cup series. It almost certainly made absolutely no difference in the outcomes, except to discredit some great sailing by the Oracle team.
    It is a tempest in a tea pot. Something that sports media seems to be good at these days.

  • Bluewatersailor

    The Oracle infraction was self reported by Russell Coutts. It was not a top down attempt to gain unfair advantage in the World Cup series. It almost certainly made absolutely no difference in the outcomes, except to discredit some great sailing by the Oracle team.
    It is a tempest in a tea pot. Something that sports media seems to be good at these days.

  • disqus_HuQAbAdytT

    The alleged rule violations are potentially serious and should be carefully investigated — the truth will set you free. The article suggests that “a small number of team members” were involved. If that’s the case, the team members should be identified and given a chance to explain or deny their actions. If no one owns up to the violations, then the Team should be held accountable. If the team can’t be trusted to follow the rules (that they had a big influence on establishing) then their ongoing involvement should be supervised by an independent panel of monitors. Although an earlier comment suggests that this is “a tempest in a tea pot”, it’s a sad day for sailing when the AC defending team (which apparently didn’t follow it’s own rules regarding allowing another US entity to challenge them on the water to determine the best defender of the Cup), now has retroactively withdrawn, as if that makes the problem go away. It doesn’t go away. Can integrity be so out of fashion? This is not what yachting sportsmanship has been like in the past.

  • disqus_HuQAbAdytT

    The alleged rule violations are potentially serious and should be carefully investigated — the truth will set you free. The article suggests that “a small number of team members” were involved. If that’s the case, the team members should be identified and given a chance to explain or deny their actions. If no one owns up to the violations, then the Team should be held accountable. If the team can’t be trusted to follow the rules (that they had a big influence on establishing) then their ongoing involvement should be supervised by an independent panel of monitors. Although an earlier comment suggests that this is “a tempest in a tea pot”, it’s a sad day for sailing when the AC defending team (which apparently didn’t follow it’s own rules regarding allowing another US entity to challenge them on the water to determine the best defender of the Cup), now has retroactively withdrawn, as if that makes the problem go away. It doesn’t go away. Can integrity be so out of fashion? This is not what yachting sportsmanship has been like in the past.

  • disqus_sboc4AGTt1

    I DONT BELIEVE ANY OF THESE SO CALLED WE NEW NOTHING ABOUT THE MODIFICATIONS ON THE BOATS. AS A HUGE BOATING COMP AND TEAM SUCH AS ORACLE IS ALSO BEING THE BIGGEST AND MOST ADVANCED IN THE GROUP OF ALL THESE BOATS. AND HAVING THE SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO PRODUCE THESE BOATS, HOW CAN SUCH A MODIFICATION PASS THE EYES OF SUCH SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN THE INDUSTRY. AND WOULDNT THERE BE CONTINUOUS AMOUNTS OF CHECKS BEFORE AND AFTER EACH RACE THAT ARE ORGANISED AND TICKED OFF. I MEAN IT SOUNDS A LOAD OF BULL THAT THEY NEW NOTHING OF IT. I MEAN EACH TEAM IN THE AMERICAS CUP WOULD HAVE A SEQUENCE OF CHECKLISTS AND CRITERIA THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE CHECKED OFF CORRECTLY SO THERE ARE NO STUFF UPS. AND IF THERE ARE MODIFICATIONS THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO HAVE BEEN CHECKED DOWN OR ADVISED BY SOMEONE AND IT SHOULD ALSO BE FULLY CHECKED BY THE MANAGEMENT OF THE BOAT ANYWAY EACH TIME TO MAKE SURE ALL IS WELL. I THINK A FARE PUNISHMENT WOULD BE A 1 MINUTE START ADVANTAGE TO THE TEAM THAT GOES UP AGAINST THEM IN THE CUP FINALS. AND REMOVAL OF THEIR TROPHIES. I MEAN FOR A TEAM THAT HAS AN ENDLESS AMOUNT OF BOTH ENGINEERING AND SAILING TALENT IT SHOULD BE NO UNFAIR ADVANTAGE TO THEM IF THEY WERE TO LOOSE A MINUTE AT THE START. WITH THIER TALLENT AND ADVANTAGE OF EXSPERTESE THEY HAVE THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO CLAW BACK EASILY

  • disqus_sboc4AGTt1

    I DONT BELIEVE ANY OF THESE SO CALLED WE NEW NOTHING ABOUT THE MODIFICATIONS ON THE BOATS. AS A HUGE BOATING COMP AND TEAM SUCH AS ORACLE IS ALSO BEING THE BIGGEST AND MOST ADVANCED IN THE GROUP OF ALL THESE BOATS. AND HAVING THE SUFFICIENT FUNDS TO PRODUCE THESE BOATS, HOW CAN SUCH A MODIFICATION PASS THE EYES OF SUCH SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN THE INDUSTRY. AND WOULDNT THERE BE CONTINUOUS AMOUNTS OF CHECKS BEFORE AND AFTER EACH RACE THAT ARE ORGANISED AND TICKED OFF. I MEAN IT SOUNDS A LOAD OF BULL THAT THEY NEW NOTHING OF IT. I MEAN EACH TEAM IN THE AMERICAS CUP WOULD HAVE A SEQUENCE OF CHECKLISTS AND CRITERIA THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE CHECKED OFF CORRECTLY SO THERE ARE NO STUFF UPS. AND IF THERE ARE MODIFICATIONS THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO HAVE BEEN CHECKED DOWN OR ADVISED BY SOMEONE AND IT SHOULD ALSO BE FULLY CHECKED BY THE MANAGEMENT OF THE BOAT ANYWAY EACH TIME TO MAKE SURE ALL IS WELL. I THINK A FARE PUNISHMENT WOULD BE A 1 MINUTE START ADVANTAGE TO THE TEAM THAT GOES UP AGAINST THEM IN THE CUP FINALS. AND REMOVAL OF THEIR TROPHIES. I MEAN FOR A TEAM THAT HAS AN ENDLESS AMOUNT OF BOTH ENGINEERING AND SAILING TALENT IT SHOULD BE NO UNFAIR ADVANTAGE TO THEM IF THEY WERE TO LOOSE A MINUTE AT THE START. WITH THIER TALLENT AND ADVANTAGE OF EXSPERTESE THEY HAVE THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO CLAW BACK EASILY