SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An already troubled America's Cup continues to bog down as Italy's Luna Rossa is threatening to sit out Sunday's opening race of the challenger series while it awaits the ruling of an international jury in a protest.
Team Luna Rossa skipper Massimiliano Sirena indicated at a press conference Friday that the Italian team might not participate in Sunday’s opening race of the Louis Vitton Cup against Emirates Team New Zealand.
“It is not politics,” Sirena said. “We just feel that it’s unfair and against our principles…It’s nothing related to politics. People can say whatever they want. We are here to race. We are not going to accept a change of the rule one week before the event.”
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The protest hearing isn't scheduled to be heard until Monday, although regatta director Iain Murray says there's a chance it could be resolved before then.
The Louis Vuitton Cup, a series of races between the three challengers vying for the America's Cup, is set to begin Sunday at 12:15 p.m. with the Italian boat facing the Emirates Team New Zealand team.
The eventual winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will compete against defending champion Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup Finals in September.
Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand have protested Murray's authority to change rules as part of safety recommendations he made after British sailor Andrew ``Bart'' Simpson was killed May 9 when Artemis Racing's 72-foot catamaran capsized during a training run.
Sirena has told America's Cup officials that he will decide on Saturday whether Luna Rossa Challenge will race or not.
America's Cup chief executive Stephen Barclay said in a statement that Luna Rossa's possible absence from the initial race is "an affront to the fans who've been waiting three and a half years for the first race."
Skipper Dean Barker says Team New Zealand is ready to race Sunday even if the Italians aren't.