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AMERICA'S CUP : Syndicate Director Believes Crew Getting Data Illegally

November 29, 1986|From Times Wire Services

FREMANTLE, Australia — Body searches of America's Cup crews may be necessary if race officials suspect the use of pocket-size devices providing up-to-the-minute weather information, an official with Great Britain's White Crusader Challenge said Friday.

Ian Easton, a director of the syndicate, said he believed at least one challenging team was using the illegal visual pager system. If true, that would violate the rule disallowing transmission of any weather reports to a competing yacht after the 10-minute warning gun is fired.

"If the race committee instituted a search of a boat before the start of a race, it should look at asking crewmen to empty their pockets," Easton said.

"These devices are quite small and can be easily hidden--or thrown overboard for that matter."

Easton said he is not prepared to name the syndicate he suspects.

"There is some evidence, but not enough" to go to race officials, he said. "It would be awful if the Cup was won by a crew using these devices."

Dr. Stan Reid, chairman of the cup committee overseeing the race, said the devices--so small they can be kept in a pocket or clipped to a belt--would be discussed at a meeting.

Noel Robins, committee executive director, said using the pager conflicted with International Yacht Racing Union rules.

"There are 11 guys on the boat and the dishonor of being caught would be immense," Robins said.

Dr. Ray Steedman developed the system whereby meteorological buoys at both ends of the course send information by radio to a computer in the Fremantle Port Authority tower.

"This information is distributed to about 15 syndicates, but it is not expressly for their purposes," Steedman said.

"The computer in the tower collects the information, does calculations and arranges it in a format that makes it possible to key up the results on a visual pager."

Steedman said he had "heard whispers" that syndicates were using the service illegally.

FO

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