The Arbitration Panel hears from Laurie Davidson and Ian Mitchell

Sunday December 8th 2002, Author: James Boyd/Keith Taylor, Location: Australasia
The America’s Cup Arbitration Panel adjourned tonight after two days of hearings into an application for disqualification of the Seattle Yacht Club’s OneWorld Challenge for improper possession and use of other syndicates’ design information.

The five senior jurists who make up the Panel will meet tomorrow morning as they consider the merits of the application by the New York Yacht Club and the Yacht Club Punta Ala. For the last two days the Panel has heard cross-examination of witnesses for both sides, ending with lengthy summations this afternoon. Although a decision is possible tomorrow, it might take several days.

In a separate action, a protest by Team Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes against OneWorld under the Unfair Sailing Rule is scheduled to start at 6:00 PM tomorrow before the International Jury. The protest is linked to the case before the Panel and is contingent on its outcome. The hearing is expected to be delayed until the Panel reaches a decision.

OneWorld designer Laurie Davidson, who was one of the key members of the New Zealand challenges and the successful defence in 2000 has been 'in the dock' and testified about how he only uses computers for creating lines plans.

Davidson's former Team New Zealand design team member Ian Mitchell, now also with OneWorld, admitted to the hearing that he had a zip disk with design information from Team New Zealand in his possession that he had come across when moving house in June 2000. This he has since destroyed. He also said that he had an old 486 PC in his garage that had been used during the Kiwi challenge in 1995.

James Farmer, QC, for the applicants, said OneWorld had tried to recreate the benchmark that Team New Zealand had reached at the end of the last America’s Cup. OneWorld had done this by hiring Team New Zealand members and encouraging them to recreate the New Zealand designs as the springboard for its own design efforts.

Ian Thain, acting on behalf of OneWorld challenge countered that this was not in breach of the protocol and that most of the other syndicates had tried to do the same. He said that under Farmer's interpretation OneWorld would have been the only challenge capable of recreating the 'Davidson bow'.

What's your feeling about the OneWorld case - are they guilty and if so, how guilty? Can anything be done to prevent this scenario happening again? Should challengers be able to buy design information? Or is it just plain boring? Click here to email your thoughts to via Outlook or go to our Contact Us page to use a message box...

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