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Kiwi fans ask: 'Did Oracle cheat?'

Thursday 26 Sep 2013 4:53 p.m.

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How did Oracle come back from 8–1 down to win? Disappointed Kiwi fans have accused them of cheating by using a stability augmentation system to help them foil upwind.

Although this morning's loss might be hard to swallow for most Kiwis, it tastes sweet for Core Builders Composites, who built Oracle's AC-72.

The company's Tim Smyth says they didn't do anything to make the boat faster halfway through the regatta.

"No secret weapon, we're on the same set of foils that we started the regatta with, the special foil adjust system was there quite a bit before the regatta started and sure, it's a good system," says Mr Smyth.

A very good system - in the second half of the races they helped Oracle blitz Team New Zealand upwind.

The gadget is a stability augmentation system, which helps to stabilise the boat.

"There's an automatic levelling system on Oracle that when you push that button the boat foils," TVNZ commentator Peter Lester said today.

"Team NZ manually operate their system and I'm afraid it's not as effective. Oracle have more technology."

That technology was built and designed in Warkworth by a Kiwi team wholly owned by Oracle boss Larry Ellison.

"I'm certainly not allowed to talk about the details that we have," says Mr Smyth. "I don't think it's that big a secret, we all know what it does."

But it's a secret Team NZ hasn't been able to work out how.

"Their boat is rock steady upwind in those conditions, and it takes us a lot of effort," says Team NZ tactician Ray Davies. "We've been trying to do it for a long, long time and they mastered it in a few days."

There is still some questioning over whether it's legal.

"I don't think we can go there and make those sort of assumptions," says Team NZ's Kevin Shoebridge. "They've just got a very good system."

Before racing started the jury declared it legal. Oracle worked out how to use it, and that proved to be the difference.

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