Monday, December 08, 2008

America’s Cup Dealine Approaches

The two open letters below, one from AYRE Challenge and the reply from Russell Coutts of BMW Oracle, seem to show a closing of the chasm between Ernesto Bertarelli of Team Alinghi and Larry Ellison of BMW Oracle.

The documents referred to by Coutts are critical to the reaching of an amicable settlement of this long and expensive war between two of the richest men in the world. Bertarelli’s original plans for the 33rd AC Challenge were unacceptable to Ellison and to many other teams. In an effort to overcome the resulting 15 month stalemate, Bertarelli organized meetings in Geneva with other challengers which resulted in these plans being significantly revised. Team BMW Oracle were not at these meetings and their own suggestions for avoiding further court action were ignored. Bertarelli has declared a deadline of 15 December for entries and Coutts has requested copies of the proposed plans by 8 December, giving his team a week to study and digest the plans.

As the AYRE Challenge letter states: “The only important issue is to remedy the reasons that caused BOR’s action”.

Quite simply, if BMW Oracle receive the documents and proceed to nit-pick and prevaricate over relatively minor details, I believe they will lose the goodwill and respect of the majority who have supported their stand.

If BMW Oracle receive the documents and, following clarification of certain points, feel able to re-submit their challenge, then it seems likely that the America’s Cup will be able to proceed as planned in Valencia in 2010.

If Team Alinghi fails to provide the documents requested by 8 December, then BMW Oracle are, in my opinion, perfectly justified in pursuing their claim through the courts.

This will be very sad for all those who have had to put their lives on hold while this drama has unfolded, but it would be worse to see this 157 year old trophy brought into further disrepute.

Mike O’Neill

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