Arbitration Panel ruling

New disclosures hammer OneWorld, bitter words from both sides

Monday December 9th 2002, Author: Louis Vuitton Media Centre, Location: Australasia
The America’s Cup Arbitration Panel (ACAP) has docked the Seattle Yacht Club’s OneWorld Challenge one point in each remaining series it sails in the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America’s Cup. In addition it has been ordered to pay costs to the Panel of US$65,000.

In its decision, the Panel “determines that OneWorld Challenge has been in breach of the Protocol in that a designer employed by OneWorld Challenge had in his possession a computer file, a ZIP disk and a computer that contained design information that was the property of Team New Zealand, facts that were not disclosed in the previous application ACAP 01/08.”

All of the other grounds brought up at the hearing were dismissed.

Specifically, the Panel imposes that OneWorld will “lose one point in:

a) the semi-final of the Louis Vuitton Cup and, if it advances,
b) the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup and, if it advances,
c) the Match for the America’s Cup”

If OneWorld pays the costs as ordered, and assumes the one point penalty when applicable, OneWorld will be eligible to sign the declaration and sail in the America’s Cup as the Challenger should OneWorld win all their matches.

The penalty is a point deducted from OneWorld, and not a point given to its opponent. For example, in its Semi-Final match against Prada, the Italian team still must win four races to advance to the Repechage. OneWorld would need to win five races to advance.

Team Dennis Conner in light of this ruling have withdrawn their separate protest against OneWorld, the hearing of which was waiting for the outcome of the Arbitration Panel. Here's the offical line from TDC:

Commodore Dana of the NYYC said: “Both clubs believe that the rules requiring each team to develop its own design data are fundamental to the America's Cup competition. It is important that all future teams have a clear understanding of these rules, and the consequences of any violation of the rules. It was solely for this purpose that YCPA and the NYYC commenced the latest proceeding before the Arbitration Panel.”

Dennis Conner, head of the Stars & Stripes campaign for the America ’s Cup said: “The decision of the panel substantiates some of the claims made by the New York Yacht Club/Team Dennis Conner and Yacht Club Punta Ala/Prada Challenge. However, we are disappointed with the penalty imposed. We believe it does not do justice to the years
of dedication and hard work on the part of our entire team.”

Conner said that in light of the Panel’s decision, his team would withdraw its “Fair Sailing” protest to the International Jury. The hearing was scheduled for Tuesday night.

Meanwhile OneWorld issued this statement to continue the mud-slinging:

We respectfully submit that the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel has respectfully levelled an extremely harsh judgment against OneWorld in response to the team’s own voluntary disclosure. This is a stunning indictment of honesty to be penalised for telling the truth. The Panel found in our favour and completely dismissed the accusations of Team Dennis Connor and Prada in their application. 

From the outset, OneWorld Challenge has had as a clear goal of running a clean campaign. Substantially all of the evidence that was brought before the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel was admissions by OneWorld, not the petitioners. We were gentlemen, above board and forthright. 

The worst that should be said of us, beyond the fact that we hired a man who turned out to be crooked and gave bad advice, is that we have a designer who told us of an old back-up disk and a seven year old computer in his garage that he never used and OneWorld never knew he had. These are issues that never would have come up had we not raised them. Reeves didn’t bring them up, and neither did Team Dennis Connor nor Prada. All of their claims were rejected.

We have decided to proceed through the racing and hold our heads high, knowing in our hearts that we assembled, with the exception of Reeves, a fantastic team of good, talented people who came together to win with a higher purpose. They strive for excellence in everything they do. We stand beside them proudly while others, most of whom are not without guilt themselves, cast the stones. We thank our family and friends who have continued to support us. Now we will continue to go about doing what we came here to do, win races and surmount the obstacles put before us.
What's your view on this case - did OneWorld deserve this penalty? Surely some of the teams which hired in designers who worked on other teams in previous Cups must be as guilty? Does this make a sham of the America's Cup? If you were the billionaire backer of an America's Cup team would this behaviour make you more or less likely to return to the America's Cup arena?

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