Sunday, 8 February 2009

LVPS: Alinghi No Show in Emirates Team New Zealand Match

by Warren Douglas

Emirates Team New Zealand’s match against Alinghi did not go ahead today when Alinghi did not turn up for the start.

Dean Barker and his crew started the match by themselves and race management awarded the race to ETNZ when it was obvious Alinghi was not going to race.

Skipper Dean Barker said he was stunned by the no-show. “I was disgusted. The racing has been close, competitors are enjoying themselves and the public are being treated to some great sailing. Why would they introduce a niggle into a very successful regatta?

“It’s all about the spirit of the event. It’s all about doing whats right for yachting. Their action was insulting and disrespectful to our team and to the New Zealand people.

“We were really wanting to race them today, the first time since July 2007.

“We don’t know what their agenda is. If they were taking a swipe at us they missed the target and whacked the thousands of New Zealand yachting fans who are following the action in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series and wanted to see two great teams go head to head.

“It inexplicable when the team pulls a stunt like this. It’s just bad sportsmanship.”

Earlier, Alinghi told regatta management that they would not race against ETNZ because they disagreed with a regatta rule which was written specifically to deter teams from actions that might cause a collision while racing. With only four yachts in the fleet, a collision that disabled a yacht even for a few hours would have a serious impact on the regatta.

Grant Dalton said: “The rule allows the race committee to deduct a point from a team found to be at fault in a hard contact. In the second round robin, races against Emirates Team New Zealand do not carry points as all other races do. This is to prevent any chance that a result in a match involving ETNZ could skew the final standings in the round robin.”

Dalton said: “ETNZ goes straight through to the final. We did not want there to be any chance that we could influence which teams emerged on top.”

Alinghi's position was that they could lose a point if found to have caused an impact, but not earn a point by winning. Therefore why take the risk?

Dean Barker’s answer to that: “They obviously haven’t done the maths. If they had raced us today and they had lost a point because of a collision, then won their next two races, they would have finished the round robin on equal points with Oracle. A count back would decide the winner.”

Dalton said the other teams in the gold fleet of round robin 2 were happy with the rule. “We will be out tomorrow racing against Team Origin. On Monday we’re up against BMW Oracle.”

Racing was delayed today by a lack of breeze. Races one and two finished successfully, but three and four were abandoned. The course was moved closer in and those two races were completed successfully.

Emirates Team New Zealand

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