Rome

Luna Rossa threat overshadows America's Cup opening

Italians, Team New Zealand challenging rule changes

Luna Rossa threat overshadows America's Cup opening

Rome, July 5 - The 34th America's Cup officially kicked off with an opening ceremony in San Francisco on Friday, but it is still not certain that Italian team Luna Rossa will be in the water when competition is set to start on Sunday. Prada-backed Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand have both presented appeals against rule changes introduced following a training accident by Swedish outfit Artemis in May in which British sailor Andrew Simpson died. The 37 changes to the rules are designed to boost the safety of the extremely fast and hard-to-handle AC72-class of wingsailed catamarans being used in the challenger series, the Louis Vuitton Cup, and the America's Cup proper. The Italians and the New Zealanders agreed to almost all of the changes, but fear that two of them may favour the defending team, BMW Oracle of the United States. These regard additional weight and the use of equipment called rudder elevators, which control the catamarans when they hydro-foil. The problem is that the America's Cup jury is not set to decide until Monday on Team New Zealand's petition that Regatta Director Iain Murray exceeded his powers with these rule changes. There is no schedule yet for the Luna Rossa protest. "Luna Rossa is indeed in favour of the introduction of new and more stringent safety regulations," the Italian team said in a statement. "But the measures regarding rudders, rudder elevators as well as the increased displacement have nothing to do with safety, since their only reason and effect to increase the speed and performance of the boat... "Luna Rossa is eager to race in the 34th America's Cup and be respectful of the rules governing it, but it will not accept any imposition contrary to the rules under which it has challenged".

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