Rumour suggests Iain Murray will be America's Cup regatta director again


According to reports on the New Zealand website Stuff and in the Fairfax media, Iain Murray is again in line to be regatta director for the America's Cup World Series and the 35th Match in Bermuda.

Stuff's Duncan Johnstone quotes AC Commissioner Dr Harvey Schiller as saying that an appointment has been made but that contract details have to be finalised before an announcement.

Murray is an excellent regatta director and in my view did a superb job in San Francisco under very trying circumstances, particularly handling the accident that caused the death of Artemis crewman Andrew “Bart” Simpson. But even his closest friends would not call him a diplomat and he will have work to do repairing his relationship with Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, who openly (and in my firm opinion wrongly) accused him of being in the pocket of Oracle Team USA when he announced new safety regulations after Simpson's death.

Max Sirena, who was a strident critic of Murray in San Francisco, is heading the syndicate of challengers which has replaced the Challenger of Record for the 35th Match and he and Murray will have to bury their differences very quickly and get on with the task at hand.

The other diplomatic incident that Murray may or may not have to deal with is the matter of the ISAF Jury. After the debacles in San Francisco where the ISAF Jury took weeks to come to its decisions and then penalised Oracle two points in the America's Cup Match for cheating in the related but separate AC World Series, the protocol for the 35th Match establishes an arbitration panel in place of the jury.

This effectively removes the America's Cup, sailing's most prestigious and most watched event, from any control by ISAF, the sport's governing body. Personally, as a strident critic of ISAF, I find this a very sensible solution by the Amrica's Cup Event Authority. But you can be sure that the junket-loving members of ISAF are not going to be pleased at having their business class airfares, five-star hotels and privileged viewing positions taken away from them and will not give up without a fight.

Judging by comments Iain Murray made to me about ISAF at the appallingly-run ISAF World Championships in Santander in September, he won't be very receptive to any overtures ISAF may make. But the America's Cup could be the thin end of the wedge for the governing body, as their contribution to offshore racing and other sailing events outside the Olympics has often been questioned.

Perhaps this will be the catalyst needed for ISAF to clean up their act. If they fail to do so, other events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and some of the more radical classes may decide to also go their own way.

Meanwhile, if the rumour is true, the America's Cup will be run by a highly intelligent and extremely experienced man who knows all the things that worked, and more importantly all those that didn't work, during the 34th Match. The event will be in good hands.

– Roger McMillan, editor.


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