Italy may boycott America's Cup challenger race

July 6, 2013 at 11:14 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, July 6 (UPI) -- The skipper of an Italian America's Cup entry said his team is considering boycotting Sunday's opening race in San Francisco because of a rules dispute.

Max Sirena, head of the Luna Rossa Classic crew, was scheduled to sail against Emirates Team New Zealand in the opener of the challenger's tournament Sunday but the International Sailing Federation will not rule until Monday on a protest filed over an 11th-hour rule change.

"We are here to race, but we want to race with fair rules," Sirena said. "We are not going to accept a change of rules right before the event."

A boycott would result in the New Zealanders navigating the course by themselves Sunday. The Louis Vuitton Cup series determines which nation will face the United States in the America's Cup series in September.

The rule change in question, announced this week, mandates wider and heavier rudder wings to help stabilize the huge catamarans.

Sirena said there was not enough time to install and test the rudder wings but Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA, characterized the changes as relatively simple operations involving "grub screws and an Allen wrench," the Los Angeles Times reported.

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