- Associated Press - Friday, April 3, 2015

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) - The America’s Cup teams which voted this week to downsize the catamarans for the 2017 regatta have hit back at unhappy squads Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge, suggesting hypocrisy.

In a joint statement from cup holder Oracle Team USA and challengers Artemis Racing (Sweden), Ben Ainslie Racing (Britain), and Team France on Friday, they expressed disappointment at Team New Zealand’s reaction to rule changes, some of which were “insisted upon by Luna Rossa.”

Italian team Luna Rossa, a challenger in the last four cups, pulled out on Thursday, criticizing the teams which agreed to downsize the boats. It called the decision unprecedented, the process illegitimate, and added the rules were disrespected.

The America’s Cup class rules were amended last week so that a change no longer needed unanimous consent of all teams, and only a majority vote.

Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said they were in “disbelief” at “the self-serving maneuvering of rules.”

But the four teams which decided to downsize the boats to reduce costs said on Friday all the teams, including Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand, agreed on the move in discussions last month.

The four said the new rule was written in consultation with all teams, and a draft was sent to all teams for feedback.

“We are disappointed to see how Team New Zealand are characterizing the rule changes that reflect the collective will of the America’s Cup teams,” their statement said.

“Taking these important decisions by a majority vote is something that was insisted upon by Luna Rossa, and written into the rules of the event.

“Regrettably, abiding by the results of the majority vote appears to be something neither they, nor Team New Zealand, are willing to do … unless they are part of the majority.”

The four hoped Team New Zealand “can see a way forward, as we all have.”

Meanwhile, Luna Rossa boss Patrizio Bertelli said pulling out has meant throwing 20 million euros ($21.6 million) “down the drain.”

In Italian daily La Repubblica on Friday, Bertelli said the cup organizers, led by Oracle Team USA, were “imperialists.”

He was upset that the rules agreed to last July for the 2017 regatta in Bermuda, which set in motion the millions invested, were changed again to trim the boat from 62 feet (19 meters) to 48 feet (14 1/2 meters).

“A protocol is a protocol. The winner of a competition launches the challenge and proposes rules. The challengers accept it, and sign a document. Everyone. Then at a certain point they take it and change the rules,” he said.

“You want to know what the crazy thing is? That when they showed us the first protocol - the one we all conformed to and invested in - we screamed to the entire world that it was wrong and cost too much, and we proposed 55-foot boats. But they kept going straight ahead, forcing us to invest in these projects that they want to throw away now. They’re not serious people and I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

“As far as I’m concerned, the America’s Cup ends here. Forever. Irrevocably.”


AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.

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