Bold Espionage Tactics Stir Up Cup Emotions

TIMES STAFF WRITER

America 3's sophisticated intelligence operations have been a sore subject among rivals--especially the ones across Fisherman's Harbor whom they'll meet in the America's Cup match starting Saturday.

At first the Cubens denied it, then they admitted it and this week, when it didn't matter as much anymore, they were willing to talk about it . . . sort of.

Executive vice president Vincent Moeyersoms said, "Some of the items we're using are fairly conventional, like laser guns coupled with a hand-bearing compass.

"It's obvious that the technology available for intelligence purposes takes s big jump every three or four years, from one campaign to another. We don't know what the other guys are using."

Rivals know America 3 has been using a power cruiser named Guzzini loaded with enough electronics gear to sink it.

When Il Moro invited reporters to watch it sail Wednesday, skipper Paul Cayard said, "Guzzini followed us so close that the press boat had to chase 'em away--and they had their helicopter all over the place."

America 3 has been suspected of tapping into rivals' telemetry on their boats' performance.

"Thank God I don't have enough money to buy that (equipment)," Cayard said. "Then you get all that reams of data and somebody's gotta read all that. They probably have a good idea of how many times we go to the bathroom, how many times I make phone calls."

Robert Hopkins, Il Moro's navigator and technical coordinator, said, "All that they've been doing has been a negative factor for the Cup. There's a difference between scouting--going up into the bleachers and watching another team play--and getting into invasions of privacy. If any competitor was doing that, I'm embarrassed that it happened in this regatta."

But Moeyersoms defended America 3's actions.

"There are a number of areas where activities such as eavesdropping are illegal," he said. "We're not doing anything that's illegal. The laws in California are very strict as far as all that is concerned.

"And we are also playing by the rules, although the rules are (vague). We can not afford to put a campaign like this at risk by having illegal activities."

America 3 boss Bill Koch says his team has spent more than $2 million on spying, not including Guzzini, the spy boat.

"We use it for two purposes," Moeyersoms said, "to help us track the current and the wind before the start, and to keep track of where the performance of the opposition is."

Moeyersoms said America 3 hasn't used any underwater cameras to look at keels, as some rivals have charged.

"The area where we've got the most success looking at keels is just taking helicopter pictures. Everybody does it. Whatever camouflage paints we use, there are days where the water is (so) clear you can see right through.

"The Italians are watching us, too. It just so happens we're using a boat called Guzzini to do it." Moeyersoms was less candid on other subjects, such as what the Cubens thought of Il Moro's keel when they got to see it for official measurement Wednesday.

"It basically confirmed what we thought the boat was all about . . . the appendages."

And . . . ?

"There are going to be areas where we'll be better, and they'll be better in other areas."

Can you say which areas?

"Uh . . . I don't think so."

A few weeks ago, ESPN had video of a small, black truck parked high on Point Loma, with antennas pointed toward the race course.

Moeyersoms laughed and said, "I can't remember what that truck is all about."

A story has circulated that America 3 had a former Mossad (Israeli secret service) agent in charge of its spy operations.

"I've heard that story," Moeyersoms said. "Me? No."

Koch has boasted often that America 3 has the best technology--so why does he need to spy?

"For a number of reasons," Moeyersoms said. "First, being the last team to have started, we had only a short time frame to come up with the ultimate boat. We have a large design team but we aren't always able to generate all the ideas that are necessary. So it's important to get a feeling for what the other guys are checking in with.

"Another reason is it's important to keep track of our performance (relative to) them so as time goes on we don't get left behind."

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