So far so good for the change of helmsman on Mascalzone Latino, with Cameron Dunn doing a good job for the Italian boat in the must-win match against Desafio Espanol 2007 yesterday. The Rascals are still in with a chance of deposing the Spanish from that coveted fourth Semi Final place.
However, it seems yesterday's match between Mascalzone and Desafio is not quite over, with the Spanish putting in a protest against the Italians, who they claim made illegal use of their backstay during the race in question. It's an arcane rule, but basically if you choose to start the race with your backstay you must finish the race with your backstay. If you start the race without your backstay, you must complete the race without your backstay - which is a real problem if the wind pipes up half way through the race.
Why, you might ask, would you not want to attach your backstay? Apparently removing all that weight and windage is worth a couple of seconds per mile, and in the last Cup in Auckland, a man would be sent aloft in light winds to attach the backstay for downwind support, and remove it for reduced windage upwind. The new rules for this Cup forbid jiggling around with this on/off backstay arrangement. Either you use it or you don't.
It seems the Spanish are alleging Mascalzone did a bit of both with their backstay yesterday. There is a jury hearing this evening, and the Italians must be quaking. If Desafio's video evidence is conclusive, then it is hard to see the jury doing anything other than disqualifying the Italians. Unlike Mascalzone's poor choice of paint manufacturer a couple of days ago, which incurred a 10,000 Euro penalty, the jury are unlikely to look so leniently on this oversight.