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Monday, 13 January, 2003, 23:47 GMT
Hula runs rule risk
Team New Zealand's false hull, dubbed the 'hula'
Team New Zealand's false hull, dubbed the 'hula'
America's Cup holders Team New Zealand run the risk of disqualification if a piece of seaweed or debris becomes lodged between their two hulls, according to a Cup official.

Australian Ken McAlpine, the Cup's chief measurer, said any object jammed between New Zealand's false and real hulls could affect its legality under Cup rules.

If there was something that became lodged, it may or may not contravene

America's Cup official Ken McAlpine

The second hull has been deemed legal - and no protest lodged against Team New Zealand - as long as it does not touch the actual hull at any time, other than at the point of attachment.

But an unidentified syndicate has asked the measurement committee seven questions about the use of the so-called 'hula' that Team New Zealand unveiled publicly on 7 January.

"If there was something intentionally lodged (between the hulls) it would certainly contravene (the rules)," said McAlpine.

"If there was something that became lodged, it may or may not contravene. It would depend on the circumstances.

"If someone had jammed a piece of seaweed then it clearly contravenes the rule.

"If the seaweed accidentally got there on the tow out or during the race and it could be proven, then it would probably be accidental and would not contravene the rule."

Confidential

The main question opponents are asking is how to prove the hull - classified as an appendage along with the rudder and keel - does not transgress the rules when racing.

Proposals to verify no contact has taken place include an electronic or mechanical monitoring system.

But McAlpine refused to be drawn on what systems the measurement committee was using to ensure there was contact.

"It is confidential information between the measurers and Team New Zealand as to how we have got to that stage," he said.


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