SAN FRANCISCO -- Opening weekend of the America's Cup has turned into a fiasco, with regatta officials on Friday grounding the racing sailboats from Friday's water parade and time trials because of strong winds and the Italian team refusing to participate in Sunday's first day of racing.
The rest of the regatta, which runs through mid-September, remains in limbo as an international jury of sailing experts is planning to hear protests from the New Zealand and Italian teams on Monday. The two teams contend that new safety rules favor defender Oracle Team USA and Sweden's Artemis Racing team, which lost a crewman during a tragic capsize in the bay in May.
Max Sirena, skipper of Italy's Luna Rossa team, says principles, not politics are the reason his team will not sail in Sunday's first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup round robin. He contends that a list of safety rules imposed by the regatta director after the tragedy, especially the ones changing the size and shape of the rudder winglets, put them at a disadvantage. Sirena said he wants the jury to resolve the issues first.
"We are here to race and we are here to race with fair rules," Sirena during a packed news conference at America's Cup Park on the transformed Piers 27/29 that is open to the public.
But the CEO of Oracle Racing, Russell Coutts, called Luna Rossa, sponsored by Italian fashion house Prada "a bunch of spoiled little rich kids dressed in Prada."
Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409. Follow her at twitter.com/juliasulek