Oracle Team USA guilty of breaching spying rules
The International Jury for the 34th America’s Cup has ruled in favour of Luna Rossa Challenge in its protest against Oracle Team USA for breaching of 'reconnaissance rules'. A decision on the penalty has yet to be determined.
Luna Rossa protested the America's Cup defender in early November, alleging that Oracle Team USA’s Matt Mason had been within a distance of 200m, while taking pictures of the Italian team's AC72. Luna Rossa alleged that Mason’s actions violated Article 37.2(g) of the 34th America’s Cup Protocol, which prohibits competitors from navigating within 200m of each other.
In its discussion and conclusions, the Jury determined that the “pivotal question is whether Oracle Team USA’s vessel was ‘navigating’ within 200m.” They referred to the Oxford English Dictionary (as stipulated by Protocol Article 1.3) to determine the definition of 'navigating'.
It concluded that “the word ‘navigate’ as it is used in Protocol Article 37.2(g) is to be interpreted such that a vessel is still being ‘navigated’ while it is stationary if there is someone in command of it with the ability to manoeuvre the vessel.”
Oracle Team USA submitted that “to breach Article 37.2(g) OTUSA had to ‘…manage, steer, control or direct the course…’ of the OTUSA Protector to within 200m of the yacht (italics ours)”, suggesting that their vessel needed to be moving towards something in order for the driver to be “navigating a vessel.” The Jury disagreed with that view.
The Jury was satisfied that the taking of photographs during the incident was “an attempt to gain information about another Competitor” and that there was no prior consent by Luna Rossa.
The International Jury has invited parties to make submissions on the appropriate penalty, if any. It has also instructed Oracle Team USA to hand over to Luna Rossa and the Jury all photographic material taken while the Oracle Team USA vessel was within 200m.