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America's Cup: First hookup in Cagliari

by Richard Gladwell/ 4 Feb 10:01 GMT 4 February 2020
Luna Rossa apparently leads INEOS Team UK caught in a hook-up off Cagliari, Sardinia on January 18, 2020. Luna Rossa dropped her rig 10 days later. © Francesco Nonnoi

Despite all the rules about teams not being permitted to sail against other AC75 class yachts, the two teams working out of Cagliari don't seem to have waited too long before going out on their first date.

Sardinia based photographer Francesco Nonnoi caught Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing alongside newly arrived INEOS Team UK.

Article 15.1 of the Protocol governing the 36th America's Cup explicitly prohibits the "sailing or testing of AC75 Class Yachts in a coordinated manner with other Competitors". There are a couple of exceptions relating to competing in the actual America's Cup regatta or other official events, or in monitored practice sessions. Those exceptions won't be triggered until closer to the America's Cup World Series in Cagliari in late April.

However according to rules experts spoken to by Sail-World the rule could prove difficult to enforce.

The issue lies in the word "coordinated". In the experts' view this permitted "accidental" hookups, but prevented anything that had a formal pre-arrangement - even just by email.

Their logic was that the boats could see each other out sailing off Cagliari, and there was nothing to really stop them "hooking up" as the practice encounters are labelled.

However Sail-World understands that others do not have quite such a charitable view of the practice, and if it became commonplace then the matter could be placed in the hands of the Arbitration Panel.

The headline "Luna Rossa “asfalta” gli inglesi" in the Italian sailing magazine had it that the Italians had "asphalted" the British boat in a breeze blowing 15kts.

The photographer, Francesco Nonnoi, who took the shots on January 18 from long-distance, said he could not tell which boat had prevailed from his perspective. It seemed that the Italian sailing magazine's comments were based on a study of the photographs and they had not been present or made their own observation.

He added that he saw only one hook-up between the two Challengers, which took place 10 days before Luna Rossa broke her forestay chainplate, and dropped her rig.

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