OneWorld in the race against Team Dennis Conner
The five judges of the America’s Cup arbitration commission have passed a Solomonic judgment in the Conner and Prad cases against OneWorld. Neither of the parties involved can feel like winners or losers. The US team is punished again, but is allowed to continue sailing.
The verdict: In each subsequent round for which OneWorld should qualify, it gets a win denied. This means that the men of skipper Peter Gilmour have to take five instead of four wins in the best-of-seven duels in the Louis Vuitton Cup in order to advance. And in a possible final against Team New Zealand they would have to win six instead of five times to get the America’s Cup. The team was also fined $ 65,000.
The judges recognized an additional breach of America’s Cup protocol because OneWorld designer Ian Mitchell had admitted to having a zip disk with design information from his former employer, Team New Zealand. He also reported on an old computer that still contained data from the New Zealand '95 campaign. All other charges were rejected by the commission.
That is why OneWorld sees itself treated unfairly. "Our honesty was punished," says spokesman Bob Ratcliff. Because designer Mitchell voluntarily reported on the - according to his statement unused - backup disk. Conner and Pradhatten's allegations could not be substantiated in any way Decision. But he was disappointed that the evidence his team had gathered against OneWorld had not been sufficiently considered. In his opinion, there was a clear breach of protocol and rules. "When a team starts with design information, the should not have it, then that is an advantage over opponents who do not have this information. I don't know if OneWorld really did all of what Sean Reeves says. How should I? But if it did, that would be a huge advantage."
For Dennis Conner, this case makes it clear that the rules of the cup have become far too complex and difficult. "There are just too many rules. Maybe I'm just a classic car, but we weren't used to having these rules. The protocol, and especially the nationality rule, is ridiculous. Maybe it's time for me to go. I seem to be alive still in the old days."
In addition, he made his intention clear to want to withdraw the protest because of the fair sailing paragraph against OneWorld. The jury has to decide whether this is permissible. However, nobody expects any other outcome than the decision of the arbitration committee. This case should be decided on Tuesday.
OneWorld may complain about the severity of the sentence. But the team actually got away with it comparatively lightly. The duels so far have shown that even a slight superiority led to clear zero victories. It doesn't make any difference whether OneWorld has five or four wins. Especially not in the possible final against Team New Zealand. It's been a long time since a final was narrowly decided. If OneWorld is to have a superior design, it will drive the Cup home with or without a penalty point. However, the psychological disadvantages of the penalty should not be underestimated.