Mascalzone Latino fall foul of the rules for a third time in their campaign for the America's Cup. Matthew Sheahan reports

 Here we (they) go again. Following a hearing that went well on into the night, the protest by Desafio Espanol against Mascalzone Latino about illegal use of their topmast backstays has been upheld.

During the hearing the Italian team held their hands up for a rules infringement in their race against the Spanish in which the home team had alleged that the Italians had used their topmast backstays during the race, despite stowing them forwards at the beginning of the match. To do this is against the rules.

The match saw Mascalzone Latino beat the Spanish but, despite the a request that the Italians be disqualified from the race and the points awarded to Desafio, the outcome is that the penalty be the match will be re-sailed at a later date and that the Italians be fined 10,000 Euros. This is the second time in a week that Vincento Onorato’s team has had to stump up cash for an infringement, the former being as a result of the illegal paint issue.

The press release following the hearing reads as follows:

Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team has been found in breach of the America’s Cup Class Rule during its win over Desafío Español 2007.

In its findings the Jury stated it is satisfied that the breach had no significant effect on the outcome on the match. Notice of Race 14.2 allows the Jury to impose a penalty other than disqualification in such circumstances. The Jury considers that the most equitable arrangement is to re-sail the match and impose a fine of 10 000 euros. Arrangements for the re-sail will be made with the Regatta Director and will be included in the written decision to be published on Friday.

Class Rule 44.1, ‘Compliance whilst racing’, which was amended through Rule Amendment No. 1 on June 14 2005, states in part: “Whilst racing?backstays, topmast backstays and check stays shall remain permanently attached to their fixing points on the mast and the hull, deck or cockpit and in the same load bearing position throughout the race.”

Desafío Español lodged the protest within the time limit after viewing video of the race and observing the set-up on ITA 99. The Jury ruled the protest was valid and had been filed in time.

Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team acknowledged using the backstays in the manner described by Desafío Español and the Measurement Committee advised the Jury that they had determined ACC Rule 44.1 had been broken.

In effect, the Italian team had the backstays stowed alongside the mast for much of the two upwind legs, to avoid drag, but set them up before the final run, to provide more support to the topmast.

Desafío Español asked the Jury to disqualify Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team from the race and award the points from the match to the Spanish team, arguing the illegal use of the backstays amounted to an advantage for its opponent.

Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia replied that it crossed the starting line more than 11 seconds ahead of the Spanish boat and was in a strong position to win the race for the entire contest. The breach was accidental, “a stupid error”, and resulted from not complying with the amendment to the ACC Rule.

Oops, again.


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