Friday, April 03, 2009


No, you read it right, this is no April Fool, this is the real thing!

For those of you who need a brief update on the reason for the long delay: Following Alinghi’s successful defence of the trophy in July 2007, they accepted CNEV, a newly-formed Spanish Yacht Club as Challenger of Record. The two teams set about changing the format and rules for future Americas Cup series. A number of other teams were outraged by this and one of them, BMW Oracle, commenced legal action against Alinghi in the New York courts, alleging that CNEV was not a valid Challenger of Record.

A court hearing in November 2007 found in favour of BMW Oracle but Alinghi appealed and, in June 2008, managed to reverse the original decision. BMW Oracle then counter-appealed and the whole thing was brought to an end with a New York Supreme Court ruling yesterday, 2 April 2009. An extract follows:

'Since CNEV has failed to show that at the time it submitted its Notice of Challenge it was a 'club fulfilling all the conditions required by' the Deed of Gift, it does not qualify as the Challenger of Record for the 33rd America's Cup competition and Supreme Court was correct in declaring GGYC to be the valid Challenger of Record.'

SNG, Alinghi’s home club said yesterday: “It has consistently been our view that the America's Cup should be fought on the water. Today through the American courts the Golden Gate Yacht Club has won the right to challenge the Société Nautique de Genève. We will now discuss the terms for the regatta with them and will prepare our defence of the 33rd America's Cup.”

GGYC, BMW Oracle’s home club have yet to comment, but a statement from Tom Ehman of GGYC following the first court hearing still seems relevant: He said ““From the very beginning this whole process has been about stopping the defender from imposing a wholly one-sided set of rules on the Cup that was strongly opposed by the great majority of challengers.”

CNEV issued a statement saying: Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) and Desafío Español have received the news of the New York Court’s decision with disappointment.
The court’s decision confirms Golden Gate Yacht Club as the Challenger of Record, to the detriment of the Spanish club.

So what now? The situation was best summed up by Richard Gladwell of Sail-World.Com: “The fate of the America's Cup lies in the hands of Ernesto Bertarelli and his clubs and team.

Take the hard line and insist on meeting Golden Gate YC in a multihull and there will be another round of Court argument and Appeal, which will not be resolved for another two years, plus the 10 months taken from todays date for the match to be held - effectively three years.

Or, he can take the magnanimous line, agree to operate under Mutual Consent and run a multi challenger event, which could be underway in 12 months time (April 2010) with the first preliminary regatta being sailed off Valencia in the months time.

Your call, Ernesto.”

There will be more stuff to resolve before the show is well and truly back on course but we will keep you posted as the news breaks. Good sailing!
Mike O’Neill

Mike O'Neill writes regularly on Sailing and the America's Cup here

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