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America's Cup holders Team New Zealand furious at course changes

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - America’s Cup holder Team New Zealand have reacted angrily to an independent arbitration panel decision that will limit fans’ ability to watch next year’s races from Auckland’s waterfront.

Team New Zealand (TNZ) said in a statement on Thursday the panel had effectively cancelled the use of two of the five proposed race courses.

The two courses are in the Rangitoto Channel closest to Auckland’s inner city waterfront and along the North Shore’s eastern beaches, allowing land-based spectators to watch the AC75 foiling monohulls compete.

“Quite frankly we are outraged by this decision,” said TNZ Chief Executive Grant Dalton. “It has gone against everything we have been trying to achieve for the last three years.”

The independent panel said in its ruling that Auckland’s Harbourmaster had deemed the two courses suitable only for races in the final of the Challenger Series and the America’s Cup itself.

All three challenging syndicates, Britain’s INEOS Team UK, American Magic and Challengers of Record Luna Rossa from Italy, who brought the case to arbitration, argued that only courses available for the entirety of the regatta should be used.

The panel said organisers could approach the Harbourmaster again in an effort to have the course restrictions lifted.

All three challengers have launched their second-generation yachts and have two months of trials before a regatta in December also involving Team New Zealand.

The challenger series then runs from Jan. 15 to Feb. 22 before the America’s Cup match against Team New Zealand begins on March 6.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Stephen Coates

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