Latest court ruling clarifies measurement rules

The debate as to whether the monster multis for the 33rd America’s Cup are measured with water ballast or not may seem like a detail, yet the ruling that was handed down from the New York Supreme court today (Thursday 19 Nov) is a significant one.

Having taken advice from three America’s Cup experts and former jury members, David Tillett (AUS), Graham McKenzie (NZL) and Bryan Willis (GBR), on a number of technical issues, Justice Kornreich has stated that both boats shall be measured with all ballast aboard.

For BMW Oracle the ruling appears to have little affect on the measurement of its plumb ended 90ft LWL trimaran which will presumably sink a little lower in the water but not increase in waterline length. For Alinghi the issue may be more serious.

As a catamaran with long overhangs to its bows, loading the boat could increase the waterline length beyond the 90ft lwl limit. Assuming that the boat measures 90ft in it’s lightweight condition, this could mean that the cat would either have to sail without water ballast or perhaps seek to utilise a clause in the Deed of Gift that allows a longer boat on the waterline if two masts are used.

According to a spokesperson from Alinghi who we spoke to before the ruling was made, such a judgement would be a nuisance but not the end of the world. “It would be an irritation, but we would live with it,” he said.

BMW Oracle Racing’s yacht club was clearly happy with the outcome.

“This is victory for fair rules and common sense,” said Tom Ehman, GGYC spokesperson. “Once again SNG’s attempts to bias the rules in their favour have been rejected.”

Alinghi’s  yacht club’s vice commodore also made a statement shortly after the announcement saying that, “”New York Supreme Court Justice Kornreich has brought a degree more certainty to the 33rd America’s Cup today. It is good to at last have her decision on some of the pending issues. Alinghi continues to focus on its training programme ahead of the Match for the 33rd America’s Cup against BMW Oracle on 8 February 2010.”

Meanwhile, the next legal hurdle appears to be the appointment of the jury for the 33AC with the Judge ordering that if is not settled by December 4th 2009 the Court will ask the Expert Panel to re-convene.

This issue in particular might indicate that the Court is starting to become frustrated with the number of technical applications it is having to deal with and is keen to see such issues resolved by those with more specialist knowledge.

Something that a frustrated sailing fraternity would no doubt be happy to see as well.