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America’s Cup: Full CAS report finds both ISAF and de Ridder at fault

The Decision of the Court for Arbitration of Sport over the suspension of Dutch sailor Dirk de Ridder has been circulated.

The report, which was earlier reported in summary form as to the decision, confirms a 18 month suspension on de Ridder, one of the Netherlands’ top sailors, under the Rules of Sailing, and decisions of the International Sailing Federation’s Review Board.

The suspension arises from measurement irregularities found on three AC45 one design wingsailed catamarans used in the America’s Cup World series of regattas, which were preliminaries to the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.

de Ridder has strongly denied the accusations, however after two investigations by an ISAF appointed Int Jury for the Regatta and now the Court for Arbitration for Sport which conducted a ‘de novo’ hearing (or new Hearing) both bodies determined that de Ridder was the member of the sailing team that ordered the changes to be made which would take the boats out of class.

The evidence was circular, notable for lack of recall of some times, who was present at meetings and diversion of focus elsewhere. None in the team admitted involvement aside from rigger Bryce Ruthenberg, who admitted putting lead weight in a kingpost.

OTUSA Shore Manager, Mark Turner, said he was not involved in any discussion about putting weight forward in the boats. He told the CAS hearing by telephone that he believed that ‘pressure must have come from a sailor or group of sailors, but he was never told a name’.

After he became aware of the issue on July 26, 2013 – six weeks before the start of the 34th America’s Cup, he said he believed that Bryce Ruthenberg and Andrew Walker (shore team) were involved, and they did not say to him that de Ridder was involved.  America's Cup

Oracle Team USA ordered its own internal investigation into the incident, but that was never completed, and was stopped by CEO, Russell Coutts as he could not see the point in it going ahead after the end of the 34th America’s Cup Match, which Oracle won by 9pts to 8pts.

In his evidence to the International Jury, confirmed to CAS, Bryce Ruthenberg stated that de Ridder was ‘driving it’ meaning that de Ridder had ‘instigated the weight forward’. He said his ‘recollection was that Mr de Ridder gave him instruction to put weight in the front king post.’

‘Andy Walker also instructed him and Andy Walker was present when the instruction was given’, says the CAS Decision.

‘Mr Ruthenberg believed that the instruction to place weight was clear and he would not have carried out the work on his own back as he is simply a rigger in the team and does his job in the team; performance analysis of boats is not his ‘thing’. Mr Ruthenberg stated that Mr de Ridder is fery good at performance analysis of boats, and Andy Walker also has knowledge of performance and design of boats,’ the report continues.

Dirk de Ridder denied even being in Newport, USA when a key meeting was held to discuss the wright placement.

However the CAS panel concluded that ‘based on its careful analysis and weighing of the evidence, the majority of the Panel is comfortably satisfied that Mr de Ridder gave instructions, express or implied, to add weight to the forward king post of boat 4 at the Newport Regatta.’

The 27 page report identified some perceived shortcomings in the ISAF Jury and Hearing process, where CAS would prefer to see the Jury not act as a prosecutor and judge. It states that the two functions must be separated.

It also noted that there were no recordings taken of interviews conducted by the Jury members, appointed by the Jury as investigators. Instead they relied on handwritten notes of answers, without noting the question asked, and getting the interviewees to sign the notes at the end of the session.

Proceedings by the ISAF are still underway in respect of several other members of the Oracle Team USA shore crew.

CAS declined to award costs against either party (de Ridder and ISAF) as it said that both were partially at fault.

Oracle Team USA and Ben Ainslie Racing, who raced the three AC45’s affected by the changes, withdrew form four ACWS regattas and returned all trophies which were re-awarded.

by by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com

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