Friday, October 24, 2008

America's Cup Latest

America’s Cup Latest

As autumn takes hold here in Valencia, there comes just a glimmer of hope for an end to the 16-month long dispute between cupholders Team Alinghi and would-be challengers BMW Oracle.

Team Alinghi and their yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) have announced that they are “taking the necessary steps to get the 33rd America’s Cup back on track” along with their chosen Challenger of Record, Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) “and all challengers keen to join the competition.”

The announcement comes just weeks after Ernesto Bertarelli of Alinghi met with Larry Ellisson of BMW Oracle in San Francisco. Whether some form of agreement was reached has not yet been disclosed. However, it cannot have been a coincidence that Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), Ellisson’s club, offered to end its court action immediately if SNG agreed to hold: “a conventional, multiple challenger regatta under rules similar to those that governed the event in 2007.”

A decision from the New York Supreme Court of Appeal is still awaited. For BMW Oracle to be a party to SNG’s proposal would require them to drop their legal action which disputed the validity of CNEV as the Challenger of Record. Considering the vast sums of money expended by both parties in this monumental legal wrangle, it seems unlikely that Ellisson would forego the opportunity to reverse the June decision without some fairly substantial say in the procedure leading up to the proposed regatta.

Rules for the 33rd America’s Cup would be “discussed and accepted by all those joining the competition”. If agreement can be reached by the 15 December closing date for entries, it is planned that the Cup matches would take place in Valencia (subject to final negotiations with the Spanish authorities) in 2010. Racing would be in a new class of yacht which has yet to be decided. There are also plans to have pre-regattas in 2009, using the existing America’s Cup yachts.

Let us hope this really is the end of this long-running saga and let battle re-commence on the high seas off Valencia! More news soon.........

Mike O’Neill

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