Undated (AP) _ Several challengers shunted to the sidelines tried to force their way in, but were told by the court they could not participate unless New Zealand and SDYC agreed to let them in under the deed's mutual consent clause.

The warring New Zealand and American factions were unable to reach an agreement that would have allowed other nations to participate.

Consequently, the economic benefit has been severely diluted because of the one-on-one nature of the regatta.

New Zealand and San Diego made several attempts at a compromise in recent months, but the two sides never could negotiate a solution satisfactory to both sides.

John Marshall, design coordinator for the Sail America effort, said every time defense officials sought to ''level the playing field,'' Fay refused to scrap his boat, which he felt was best suited for San Diego conditions. He also probably never anticipated being forced to race the catamaran with his slower boat.

Though accusations of cheating, illegal equipment and unsportsmanlike conduct have always been a part of the America's Cup, the mud-slinging and arguing in this Cup elevated the bickering to a new level by involving the courts.

And the only regatta to be sailed without mutual consent and in strict accordance with terms of the deed ultimately will be decided in court, where Fay has vowed to continue his protest over the legality of the catamaran.

His first attempt to oust the catamaran failed July 25, when the same judge who validated his challenge told the two sides to race first and return to court later if a protest remains over class of boat.

While skirting a ruling on the catamaran issue, Justice Carmen Ciparick said she could find nothing in the deed that specifically excluded catamarans. She cautioned however that nothing should be read into her July 25 statement regarding the catamaran's legality.

Fay remains convinced he's right about the catamaran issue.

''We chose the weapons. We chose pistols,'' Fay said. ''You can't come out with a double-barreled shotgun and blow us out of the water. You've got to give us a fair and even match.''

Defense officials maintain that anything within the rules is fair and Fay has only himself to blame if his boat is too slow.

''I can't understand how Michael Fay can claim the competition isn't fair,'' Conner said. ''It's a fair contest because under the Deed of Gift each side started with a blank sheet of paper to design a boat on, and each side had the opportunity to investigate all the technology they could bring together to design the fastest boat possible.''

Overshadowed in all the bickering are the boats, both engineering marvels that sail faster than the wind in the prevailing 6-12 knot breezes off San Diego this time of year.

The New Zealand, a solid white creation resembling a rocket ship, will be sailing with a crew of about 40, including about 18 who provide ballast for the boat by sitting on hull wings. It has clean, straight lines and its 150- foot mast supporting a half-acre of sail is the largest in the world.

Like the New Zealand, the Stars & Stripes catamaran is built of space-age materials but it will only carry a crew of nine. Rather than traditional soft sails, it has a 108-foot tall airplane-like wing sail that can camber and twist with shifts in the wind.

Designers believe the hard wing sail is more aerodynamically efficient than soft sails in converting wind to energy, and the hard-rig catamaran beat its soft-sail counterpart nine straight times during informal defender trials last month.

''You don't win the America's Cup by being conservative,'' Marshall said. ''We learned that in 1983.''

Conner, skippering Liberty for the New York Yacht Club, was beaten by the Australians that year when the Aussies came up with a breakthrough design known as the winged keel.

END ADV Weekend Editions Sept. 03-04