Police say this is the latest in a long series of incidents between Alinghi and the Defender. The Auckland Maritime Police Unit today imposed an instant $NZ10,000 fine on the Alinghi team after one of its chase boats entered the Team NZ practice area.
The fine came after a long history of on-the-water confrontations between the two teams that will face each other in the America's Cup starting on February 15.
"This was the latest of a whole series of incidents between Alinghi and the Defender,"
said Senior Sergeant Martin Paget, officer in charge of the Police Maritime Unit in Auckland.
"We have had meetings and deep and meaningful discussions between the parties, the police and the harbour master in an attempt to stop this behaviour."
The most recent of those meetings took place yesterday.
Asked to describe today's incident, Senior Sergeant Paget said: "When the boats go out onto the course area, they have been given very clear instructions, complete with diagrams, of what they can and cannot do. Today, one of Alinghi's tender boats went right to the centre of the Team New Zealand course area.
"As a result we served an infringement notice against Alinghi. It was a blatant disregard of those instructions. The penalty is an instant fine of $10,000. I am hoping this will get their attention.
"It was a blatant provocation and our guys could not ignore it any more."
By agreement between the competing teams, separate areas of the Hauraki Gulf are designated for the Challengers and the Defenders to practice on. Article 13 of the America's Cup protocol also stipulates what teams can and cannot do in terms of reconnaissance.
The preamble to this section says "It is intended that Challengers and Candidates for the Defence shall have the opportunity to develop their own design features, systems and techniques in private and not be subject to harassment while testing."
Senior Sergeant Paget said there had been a lot of niggle and gamesmanship between the two teams, which had escalated since Christmas."We have been trying very hard to get both parties to behave civilly and to stop spilling over from a sporting event into legal rules regarding areas they cannot go into."
The police have provided special patrols during the Cup racing. During non-racing periods, they maintain a presence to ensure the teams comply with the agreed rules. Today's incident took place in front of one of the police patrol boats.
It did not require a complaint to be laid, said Senior Sergeant Paget, because the police witnessed the incident and instantly served the infringement notice and issued the spot fine.
Team New Zealand declined to comment on the incident.
Team Alinghi confirmed today that two contract staff using a borrowed chase boat had inadvertently strayed into a restricted sailing area and incurred a fine of 10.000 NZD.
A statement from the team said "the contractors were inexperienced and entered the zone by mistake while attempting to locate another Alinghi chase boat in the Hauraki Gulf. Alinghi expresses its regrets and apologizes to the New Zealand Police and Team New Zealand"