The Code of Conduct for the 34th America's Cup has been included in the revised Protocol for the 34th America's Cup, and is the first time such a clause has been applied in the event.
It is clearly aimed at teams and individuals making comment that is at variance with the 'party line', in an event that has been notorious for the characters of the America's Cup doing just that.
It is not clear quite what triggered the need for the clause, save for a view that such a Code will be instituted by the world ruling body, the International Sailing Federation, and the America's Cup organisers decided to jump the gun on ISAF.
The authority to introduce such a clause was bought in at the last Competitors Forum - where those not participating in the 34th America's Cup were allowed to vote. The practice has since been disallowed by the America's Cup Jury.
Although the clause does allow for the expression of legitimately held comment, it remains to be seen how liberally this is interpreted, given that some teams, Emirates Team NZ in particular, have been quite critical of the so-called cost reductions claimed for the 34th America's Cup, and other matters.
The introduction of the Code of Conduct clause has been labelled the 'Dalton Amendment' by many in the media, who perceive it as an endeavour to gag the straight-talking head of one of the world's most successful professional sailing teams.
Penalties for a breach of the code range from censure to the exclusion of an individual from the event.
Sailing has long had a rule which covers gross misconduct, which applies at all levels of the sport, including the America's Cup.
The full text reads: 60. PROTECTING THE REPUTATION OF THE AMERICA’S CUP
60.1. The favorable reputation of the America’s Cup, its regattas, events, selected venues,
Officials, sponsors, commercial partners and its Competitors is a valuable asset and
creates financial and other tangible and intangible benefits for all. Accordingly, each
Competitor shall not (and shall use its best efforts to ensure that any team member, owner,
officer, employee, contractor, affiliate, agent or representative of the Competitor shall not)
and each Official shall not make or cause to be made, or authorize or endorse, any public
statement, or engage in any other act or conduct or any activity, in each case, on or off the
water, that is prejudicial or detrimental to or against the welfare or the best interests of the
America’s Cup, or the sport of sailing, or that may impair public confidence in the honest
and orderly conduct of the America’s Cup, any Event, or in the integrity and good character
of any Competitor, Official, selected venue, sponsor or other commercial partner of the
America’s Cup. Conduct contrary to the welfare or the best interests of the America’s Cup
includes, but is not limited to, public statements that unreasonably attack or disparage a
regatta related to the America’s Cup, an Event, a selected venue, a funder, a sponsor, a
commercial partner of the Event or a Competitor, another Competitor, an Official, or the
commercial viability or integrity of the America’s Cup or any of its regattas or events, but
responsible expressions of legitimate disagreement are not prohibited.
60.2. The Jury is authorized to discipline or otherwise penalize any Competitor (including any
team member, owner, officer, employee, contractor, affiliate, agent or representative of the
Competitor) or Official found by the Jury to have breached or violated Article 60.1 of this
Protocol. The Jury may initiate its own enquiry into any breach or violation of Article 60.1,
or may act upon receiving a report or complaint by or on behalf of any Competitor or an
Official. The Jury may impose such penalties or orders as it believes to be just and
equitable in accordance with this Protocol, including but not limited to those penalties set
forth in Article 15.4(d). Any fines imposed by the Jury for breach of Article 60.1 shall be
paid as may be directed by the Jury as it determines to be just and equitable.
60.3. All defined terms used in this Article 60 shall have the meanings given to them in this
Protocol, with the addition, for the purposes of this Article 60 only, of the following:
(a) the definition of 'Competitor' in Article 1.1(p) includes the yacht club holding the
America’s Cup; and
(b) the definition of 'Officials' in Article 1.1(mm) includes the Event Authority and ACRM
and their respective officers, employees, contractors, representatives and agents.
The penalties which can be applied are as follows: 15(d) to impose penalties for breaking a Rule as prescribed in the Rule, or when no penalty
is prescribed the Jury may impose penalties it believes to be just and equitable
(iii) order a partial or full forfeiture of a Challenger’s performance bond;
(iv) order loss of existing or future points, scores or races;
(v) award points or races to another Competitor;
(vi) disqualify a Competitor from any race, series or the Event;
(vii) order a reduction in the number of sails permitted; and/or
(viii) to order the suspension or expulsion of any individual from the Event.