Friday, April 24, 2009

Sorry Folks, it ain’t gonna happen.......

Bet they're not smiling now!

There should be AC33 yachts on the horizon!

The reason I have been slow in putting pen to paper (ok, finger to key-board) recently is an increasing awareness that, notwithstanding two major and costly defeats in court, Ernesto Bertarelli’s ego is so huge, he just cannot accept defeat. The result of this is that, in spite of Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (BMW Oracle’s home club) offer to bury the hatchet and agree to a conventional America’s Cup series in Valencia next year, Société Nautique de Genève (Team Alinghi’s home club) have instead accepted the alternative of a head-to-head ‘Deed of Gift’ match in 90 foot multi-hulls at a venue to be decided.

SNG statement: issued yesterday (23 April), said:

“At a meeting today in Geneva, the America's Cup defending yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), confirmed that it accepts the Golden Gate Yacht Club's (GGYC) challenge for the 33rd America's Cup and informed representatives of the American yacht club that its team, Alinghi, will be ready to race their 90x90ft boat (as stated in the GGYC Notice of Challenge) in 2010.

SNG expressed its willingness for the challenger selection to be open to other teams and has encouraged GGYC to do so by offering them more time for teams to prepare if necessary. It was also stated that the SNG would be flexible and ready to discuss other terms of the 33rd America's Cup such as race format, venue or calendar.”

Now, much as I look forward to the spectacle of two giant multi-hulls (catamarans or trimarans...or one of each) hurtling towards one another at 50 knots plus in a winner-takes- all ‘grudge match’, the idea that this should be the way forward to future America’s Cup contests is just plain stupid. For a start, once one of these two giants has crossed ahead of the over, bar some unfortunate accident. These ‘boats’ are just so fast that, unlike Formula One where a great start can often be undone, the leading boat can just sail away and...well, where’s the sport in watching that?

The idea that the (alleged) eighteen other teams, waiting in the wings for the outcome of this conflict, would now willingly commit themselves and their sponsors (!) to the design, build and trial of these multi-hulled monsters really beggars belief. These teams have been willing to toe the party line thus far in the vain hope that they would get at least a year’s worth of low-cost sailing in the existing armada of AC yachts. GGYC (BMW Oracle) had already stated that, if they won the case, they would be happy for the 33rd AC Challenge to carry on in the existing boats provided that SNG (Alinghi) accepted some modest amendments to the rules that SNG had instigated.

GGYC statement: Valencia, Spain, 23 April 2009 – “A delegation from the Golden Gate Yacht Club and its team, BMW ORACLE Racing, met in Geneva today with representatives of SNG/Alinghi. GGYC’s clear and straight-forward proposals for a fully competitive, conventional America’s Cup in monohulls were rejected by SNG, who insisted on a regatta in large multihulls under the Deed of Gift (“DoG”). SNG asserted that the Deed of Gift match with GGYC would take place in May 2010. This is in defiance of the recent decision and orders of the New York courts that the DoG match take place in February 2010.

GGYC has asked SNG to put their position in writing, and hopes to have another meeting with SNG soon to clarify issues related to the DoG match. GGYC is disappointed that SNG categorically rejected our proposals for a conventional regatta. GGYC will continue to negotiate in good faith as Challenger of Record to put the America’s Cup back on the water as soon as possible.”

The question of dates is important. The New York Supreme Court ruled that racing should take place within ten months of judgement, which means by the end of February 2010. If the two teams don’t like the idea of racing in cooler European waters at that time of year, they could always be sure of a warm welcome in New Zealand, where Alinghi first won the trophy back in February 2003. Read the rest of this story NOW on’s Big Problem
Mike O'Neill

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