Coast Guard issues America's Cup permit

The US Coast Guard issued the Marine Event Permit required for America's Cup racing to get underway on San Francisco Bay, with the planned kick-off days away.

"This is an important and necessary step for the America's Cup," said America's Cup regatta director Iain Murray.

"I'd like to thank the United States Coast Guard and all of the other organizations and agencies who have helped the America's Cup get to this point where we are ready to conduct racing, starting with the fleet parade and time trials on July 5, and the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup, America's Cup Challenger Series, on July 7."

America's Cup officials said the Marine Event Permit (MEP) requires the implementation of a safety plan that incorporates the 37 safety recommendations made by Murray last month in the wake of the deadly training accident involving Swedish syndicate Artemis Racing.

Emirates Team New Zealand and Italian team Luna Rossa have objected to a few of the changes, saying they believed they affected performance rather than safety, and argued Murray overstepped his authority in calling for them.

On Thursday, Team New Zealand filed a protest with the international jury, and America's Cup organizers said on Friday they expected that protest to be heard in San Francisco on July 8 -- the day after racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup starts on July 7.

Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa and Artemis are slated to battle in the Louis Vuitton Cup to produce a challenger to take on defenders Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup Finals in September.

Artemis will likely be a late arrival in the challenger series, after the training accident that destroyed its first AC72 catamaran in May and killed British crew member Andrew Simpson.

Murray said in the regatta notice issued to competitors on Friday that the Coast Guard's decision to issue the MEP gives effect to all 37 safety recommendations "which now rank as rules for the regatta".

"I have exercised my professional judgment to the best of my ability, and have weighed carefully the unfortunate circumstances thrust upon us including, as a paramount consideration, the need to increase the safety of our crews, the officials and other Bay users, as well as the investment made by competitors and all other stakeholders in this event," Murray wrote.

"Safety is not a multiple-choice selection from which competitors pick and choose. I have issued this Regatta Notice as being in the best collective interests of the America's Cup as a long-standing institution in and at the pinnacle of our sport."

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