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Change ‘comes down heavily’ on Kiwis’ side

Emirates Team New Zealand lost government funding after the Qualifiers were moved from Auckland to Bermuda

Reports have suggested that an arbitration panel’s decision to amend the protocol of the 35th America’s Cup has “come down heavily” on the side of Emirates Team New Zealand.

Article 35.5 was amended when the teams agreed to a 28-day blackout sailing period, beginning January 9.

The amendment follows a hearing by the anonymous arbitration panel over the reallocation of the America’s Cup Qualifiers from Auckland to Bermuda.

However, the amendment will have no significant impact on the competitors already based on island.

During the blackout period teams are prohibited from sailing their new 50-foot America’s Cup Class catamarans to be used in the America’s Cup.

This no-testing period will allow New Zealand time to decommission their 50-foot boat and move it, their equipment and their team to Bermuda in time to train on an equal footing for the Qualifying round, starting on May 26 in Bermuda.

Teams are also prohibited from working on their ACC yachts during the nominated blackout period if it has been previously launched.

However, because no team has yet to launch their ACC yachts they will be able to continue to work on their boats, while provisions in the agreement also allow competitors to use ACC components on their AC45S test platforms during the blackout period.

Emirates Team New Zealand lost government funding and the Qualifier Series believed to be about $25 million after the reallocation of the Qualifiers.

Several teams have had their AC50s built in New Zealand and would have been able to commission these in Auckland, before the Qualifiers.

The sailing blackout is a compromise hammered out between the teams who opted to move on rather than wait for a decision from the arbitration panel, which could have been longer or shorter than the 28-day period.

While Team New Zealand have agreed to the change, they remain at a significant disadvantage in that their blackout period will be taken from the time their AC50 is decommissioned in Auckland and recommissioned in Bermuda.

The New Zealanders are also believed to be using some components from their AC45S test platform on the AC50 and may not be able to sail their AC45S at all.

Other teams will have the option of choosing when to take their blackout period and run their AC45S test platforms during the blackout.