S08_8520 © Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA


In the wake of the Artemis Racing capsize last month, Regatta Director Iain Murray has been charged with ensuring the racing this summer is as safe as possible.

After convening an expert review panel that interviewed more than two dozen sailors, designers, shore crew and engineers, Murray issued 37 Safety Recommendations. These have been included in an application for a Coast Guard Marine Event Permit, a permit that is necessary to conduct races on San Francisco Bay this summer.

To learn what happens next, we spoke to Iain Murray on Monday afternoon at the America’s Cup Race Management base in San Francisco.

He started by reflecting on what’s been happening since the Artemis Racing tragedy.

“The America’s Cup has been through a rough period in the last two months,” Murray said. “But we’re all working now towards a safer and better America’s Cup.”

AC.com: After four days of mediation with the International Jury and teams, why weren’t you able to get unanimous agreement on the Safety Recommendations?

Murray: The teams support increasing safety and the teams support all but one or two of the Safety Recommendations. But these are competitive racing teams and a couple of them are struggling with one or two specific points. I’ve been a competitor in the America’s Cup before and I know what’s at stake. For the record, not one of the teams is 100% happy with how all 37 recommendations affect them. But at the end of the day, safety means safety for everyone.

AC.com: Are you comfortable with the changes you’re recommending?

Murray: My job as Regatta Director is to stand back and take a bigger view. The safety recommendations were made in isolation and without influence from any stakeholder (team, sponsor or event) but after considerable consultation with the teams and sailors. I believe all 37 of these Safety Recommendations, which were handed down to all parties simultaneously on May 22, are important and necessary.

AC.com: What is the process that has to take place between now and the first day of on-the-water activity on July 5th?

Murray: The application to the Coast Guard for our Marine Safety Permit for the event includes my original 37 Safety Recommendations. We have expanded on how these general recommendations will become specific parts of the event documentation needed to obtain our Permit and then put it into effect.

AC.com: Will this involve changes to the Protocol, AC72 Class Rule and Racing Rules?

Murray: Yes. By attaching the Safety Recommendations to the application for the Coast Guard Event Permit, we are complying with the Coast Guard request that we have a thorough safety and management plan for the event.

AC.com: Is it possible, to make changes to these America’s Cup rules without the full agreement of all of the teams?

Murray: We’re probably taking an unprecedented step, but after the Artemis Racing tragedy, it’s a necessary step. Safety isn’t something we can compromise on. A man lost his life and we need to ensure, as much as we can, that it doesn’t happen again. We need to make changes.

AC.com: Why are these changes necessary?

Murray: We have to satisfy the Coast Guard that we can run a safe regatta this summer and the Safety Recommendations and rule changes are part and parcel of that. We have worked hard over the past few weeks to bring the teams together to agree on the specific rule changes and we have made a lot of progress. There are only a couple of items where, for competitive reasons, the teams can’t find common ground. But I won’t let those natural competitive instincts derail the process.

AC.com: Will the teams accept this or will there be a protest to the International Jury?

Murray: I can’t answer that. Time will tell whether they exercise that option. But I would hope they step back for a moment, as I have, and see that these are necessary changes. These changes haven’t been made to pick favorites. They have been made to enhance safety for everyone.