Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Americas Cup Delayed Again

The future of the America’s Cup once more rests with the lawyers following the failure of Team Alinghi to provide the documents requested by BMW Oracle.

In notifying Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) of the decision, Marcus Young, Commodore of Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) said: “Over the past 17 months, we have made a number of constructive suggestions to resolve the dispute outside of court and get the America’s Cup back on track. Yet SNG and your defense apparatus have consistently refused to negotiate with us in good faith.”

Alinghi’s response was: “Yesterday's announcement by BMW Oracle and Golden Gate Yacht Club is not a surprise as they have never shown any interest in joining the competition alongside the 14 teams, currently officially entered. Instead, at every turn, they have chosen to insist on pursuing their selfish legal strategy.”

The next, and final, court hearing commences on 10 February 2009 in the New York Supreme Court of Appeal. Meanwhile, Ernesto Bertarelli’s attempts to stage a pre-America’s Cup regatta here in Valencia next June are looking decidedly shaky.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, which starts in Auckland on 31 January, will put a serious dent in the budgets of those teams who have already entered. Other, newer teams will struggle for sponsorship money until a court decision is handed down; probably sometime in April. This will leave little time to get their teams up to speed and many will prefer to conserve their resources for the main event, whenever and wherever that might be.

It is impossible to predict which way the final Appeal Court decision will go but it seems probable that the delay will make a 2010 America’s Cup series look very doubtful. The best we can hope for, if BMW Oracle win their appeal, is for a spectacular ‘Deed of Gift’ series in 90ft catamarans. But it will be nothing compared to what we witnessed here in Valencia last year during the 32nd ACC Series.

Mike O’Neill

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