America's Cup Blog 2009: The End Is Near (We Hope)
America's Cup Blog 2009: The End Is Near (We Hope)
Welcome to Sailing World's 2009 America's Cup blog. In celebration of what we hope is the last year the America's Cup contest spends more time in court than on the water, we've started this running commentary to keep track of all the key news about sailing's biggest trophy. Hopefully the year will end with better news than it starts.
Nov. 11, 2009
The Wing Flies: BMW Oracle Racing Starts Testing Hard Sail
From a team press release:
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|BMW Oracle Racing mounted what could be the biggest wing ever constructed on top of its trimaran Tuesday and then took it for a sail.|
BMW ORACLE Racing, the American Challenger of Record for the 33rd America's Cup, today installed an almost 190-foot airplane-like hard wing sail and completed the first short test sail of the team's latest technology on San Diego Bay.
A wing of this scale has never been built for a boat. In terms of size, the wing on the BOR 90 dwarfs those on modern aircraft. Towering nearly 190 ft (57 m) above the deck, it is nearly 80 percent bigger than a wing on a 747 airplane (102 ft / 31 m).
"This is just an amazing moment," said James Spithill (AUS), helmsman, BMW ORACLE Racing. "As sailors, we're just very excited to try this out. We can't thank the guys on the build and shore teams enough as they've put in a massive effort to get this ready for us."
"This was a colossal undertaking," said Tim Smyth (NZL), who, along with Mark Turner (NZL), oversaw the wing construction team in Anacortes and in San Diego. "Building a wing of this size was something new for all of us, and we're proud our guys were able to rise to the challenge."
The wing was attached to the BOR 90 trimaran for the first time today. The wing sail was first unveiled on Sunday evening, when the assembly tent on site at the team base in San Diego was opened up for the first time. After a day of load testing, it was installed on the boat platform early this morning.
The initial testing sessions will consist of gently working up the loads on the boat and wing as the sailors become familiar with the new system. Full-scale testing of the cutting-edge rig will continue over the coming weeks as BMW ORACLE Racing prepares to face Alinghi in the 33rd America's Cup Match.
Nov. 10, 2009
It's Never Easy: BMW Oracle Racing Responds
But stops short of saying they'll be there in February to race. Team spokeman Tom Ehman's statement in below:
"We're very pleased to see that Société Nautique de Geneve/Alinghi have finally agreed with us that Valencia in February is the correct venue to hold the 33rd America's Cup. Presumably SNG will now drop their appeal of the Court's decision that Ras Al Khaimah is an illegal venue."
Back Where We Started: Alinghi agrees to Valencia, in February, for the 33rd America's Cup
Alinghi press release reads:
In a letter written today to New York Supreme Court Justice Kornreich following the unsuccessful discussions with the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), the America's Cup Defender, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), has confirmed that it will conduct a Deed of Gift Match with GGYC in February 2010 in Valencia, which is the date and venue repeatedly requested by GGYC and previously ordered by the Court. SNG has also expressed its intention to publish the 33rd America's Cup Notice of Race with immediate effect.
When SNG's first choice of venue, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, was declared invalid by the New York Supreme Court, the Swiss Defender proposed two alternative Southern Hemisphere venues: Proserpine/Airlie Beach and Townsville in Australia, where the weather conditions are suitable in February.
GGYC's reaction has been to try to delay the Cup and to continue to try and gain competitive advantage while SNG attended the meetings in good faith with the objective of finding a settlement.
While SNG confirms Valencia as the venue for the 33rd America's Cup in February 2010, the offer to GGYC of an Australian venue for the same date remains on the table until 13 November 2009 provided GGYC agrees to withdraw all legal actions.
Alinghi skipper, Brad Butterworth, who participated in the discussions in New York, expressed his disappointment at the outcome: "We went into the talks in good faith, ready to make concessions in order to guarantee the return of the Cup to the water for a February duel between two state of the art multihulls, but sadly once again BMW Oracle were in power grab mode. This time their priority was to delay the race because they are not ready. Originally they pushed for February when it was to their advantage; now they have to live with their choice of date. I think I speak for the community when I say we want the Cup sorted out as soon as possible on the water."
Extract from SNG's letter to Justice Kornreich sent 10 November:
"At this point, after proposing various venues to GGYC, SNG believes that the 33rd America's Cup must be decided in February 2010 on the water rather than in the Courts of New York State. In issuing its NOR for races in Valencia for February 2010, SNG complies with (a) this Court's Order, 'reinstated' by the Court of Appeals' April 2, 2009 decision, that the parties race in February 2010, and authorizing Valencia as a permissible venue for the 33rd Cup, and (b) Your Honor's direction that 'SNG  hold the race as per the order of the Court of Appeals and Justice Cahn in February.'"
Nov. 9, 2009
"Cordial but Inconclusive"
To no great surprise, the weekend meeting of Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing didn't produce any resolution to the current America's Cup stalemate. Maybe today is the day, however, as the team's go back before Justice Kornreich of the New York State Supreme Court.
Here's a statement from BMW Oracle Racing's Tom Ehman:
"Following Friday's hearing at the New York Supreme Court, representatives of the America's Cup Challenger of Record and the Defender met over the weekend. The talks were cordial but inconclusive; negotiations are ongoing. On Monday November 9, both sides will, however, report to Justice Kornreich on the venue and timing questions addressed in Court on Friday. Separate from these talks, both sides presented evidence to the three former America's Cup jurors on Saturday on the five specific sailing and measurement questions referred to them by Justice Kornreich. The report and recommendations of Graham McKenzie (NZL), David Tillett (AUS) and Bryan Willis (GBR) will be received by the Court on Monday."
In other news, BMW Oracle Racing has finally unveiled their hard wing sail, and it's a monster. It could well be the largest wing ever built. During my trip to see Alinghi's operation in Ras al-Khaimah, prior to the judge throwing it out as a possible venue for the 33rd America's Cup, I had a chance to ask Brad Butterworth what he thought about the rumors of BMW Oracle Racing building a wing sail, whether Alinghi would try to disqualify the boat because of the presence of a wing sail, and whether Alinghi had any plans to try one. Here are his replies.
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|The BMW Oracle Racing design team with their latest (and possibly greatest) creation, a 190-foot hard wing sail for the 90-foot trimaran they hope will win the 33rd America's Cup match.|
Nov. 6, 2009
Could It Be? A Thaw in the Alinghi-Oracle Icedam?
If all goes well, the legal mess of the 33rd America's Cup could be all but behind us by Monday morning. Press releases from both sides confirm a meeting to take place this weekend on venue for the 33rd America's Cup.
Defender Alinghi open to discussions for 33rd America's Cup in February 2010
Lucien Masmejan, Société Nautique de Genève legal counsel, commented following today's hearing before Justice Kornreich of the New York Supreme Court:
"Today's hearing before Justice Kornreich was productive. Our yacht club, the Société Nautique de Genève, the America's Cup Defender and the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the challenger, have agreed to meet in New York over the weekend to discuss the venue for the 33rd America's Cup. We are due to report back to Justice Kornreich on Monday and are hopeful an agreement can be reached."
BMW Oracle Racing
Tom Ehman, Golden Gate Yacht Club Spokesperson
"Today's hearing at the New York Supreme Court was productive. Both sides - Golden Gate Yacht Club and the America's Cup defender Société Nautique de Geneve - have agreed to meet on the venue and timing issues over the weekend and report back to Justice Kornreich on Monday. We are hopeful an agreement can be reached."
The cards are pretty well on the table. BMW Oracle Racing wants to sail in Valencia in February. Though they haven't said as much specifically, by pitching locations in the United Arab Emirates and now Australia, it's apparent that Alinghi would rather not, at least in February. As much as each side claims their location is the best for the sport, for the America's Cup, I have little doubt this is largely about competitive advantage; each side feeling like they have an advantage in their chosen venue. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, blinks this weekend. Hopefully, come Monday, we can start planning for a match of two of the most advanced sailing craft ever built. But don't be surprised if each side sends out press releases on Monday lamenting the inflexibility of the other; and the Cup return to the New York State Courts.
Nov. 5, 2009
Alinghi Pitches Australia, But Won't Offer Specifics
The headline was enticing. "Alinghi offers Australian venue to unlock 33rd America's Cup and return the competition to the water." This morning's press release from the Swiss defense syndicate seemed to offer some of the most promising information yet for sailing fans eager to get the sport's prized ewer out of the courts and onto the water. Of course, there was a caveat: Alinghi didn't exactly say where in Australia they wanted to host the Cup.
" in order to achieve a Match in February SNG proposes to stage the 33rd America's Cup on the east coast of Australia, in the Southern Hemisphere, in compliance with the Deed of Gift," said the team's press release. "This is a venue that should be acceptable to both teams if, as expressed publicly, the true intention of BMW Oracle is to race for the America's Cup on the water."
And there was also a stipulation. Alinghi, in a letter sent to BMW Oracle Racing early this morning, said it wouldn't reveal the location unless BMW Oracle Racing agreed to "accept this offer and cease their legal strategy." Not surprisingly, this put the lawyers into overdrive. BMW Oracle Racing's legal team fired back asking for specifics. The east coast of Australia is not exactly a small place.
According to a Alinghi, the team doesn't yet have a specific location in mind. "It's been like a week [since Justice Shirley Kornreich deemed Alinghi's chosen location Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates was not deed compliant]," said Alinghi spokesperson Paco Latorre. "Now if Oracle agrees with the principle, we'll go out and find a precise location with the infrastructure and more importantly, the willingness, to host the America's Cup."
Agreement, however, between these two syndicates has been very tough to find. So once again, just when there appears to be progress, Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison, like two mountain goats meeting on the hillside, find a way to butt heads. When asked what sort of commitment Alinghi needed from BMW Oracle Racing, Latorre said the team's word would be enough. "If they say it, and they don't honor their word, it will be up to the media to evaluate their actions and behaviors. We don't need a guaranteed letter from a notary saying that they have withdrawn their suit."
Post-script: Recent exchanges with BMW Oracle Racing folks indicate they are not likely to take this deal, at least as presented. Oracle maintains that choosing a new venue will re-start the 6-month clock on the lead-time required by the Deed for the announcing of a venue. That would mean the 33rd America's Cup could start, at the earliest, on May 5, 2010, in Australia. That date, of course, falls outside the window for a Deed-compliant Southern Hemisphere venue (Nov. 1 to April 30). The American team sounds like it will continue to push hard for Valencia, in February. If its reasoning stands, Alinghi has found itself in a pickle, unable to pick any other venue, save for Valencia in February.
Whether that logic holds-or whether Alinghi can maintain the Feb. 8 start date even for a new venue-is a question for the judge to answer. As has been the case throughout this saga, both sides will have convincing arguments why they are correct.
Oct. 28, 2009
Ivo Rovira/ Alinghi
|Now that the New York Supreme Court has invalidated Ras al Khaimah as the venue for the 33rd America's Cup, BMW Oracle Racing is pushing for a return to Valencia, Spain (above).|
Following the recent New York Supreme Court ruling, the America's Cup could return to Valencia, Spain. Here's the latest statement from BMW Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts:
San Diego, CA, October 28, 2009 - Valencia is the best option to get the America's Cup back on track as soon as possible. This is what sailing fans from around the world are waiting for.
Both BMW ORACLE Racing and Alinghi still have bases in the Port America's Cup. The infrastructure created to the specification of the Swiss defender is in place, available and ready to recreate the atmosphere of the previous America's Cup in 2007.
Last week Cristobal Grau, Director of Sport for Valencia City, said it would only take a few weeks to have Valencia back in action. Today the Mayor of Valencia, Rita Barbera, said her city would welcome the Cup back with open arms.
In her ruling at the New York Supreme Court on Tuesday, Justice Shirley Kornreich confirmed the primacy of the governing Deed of Gift document for the America's Cup. This means that Société Nautique de Geneve (SNG) must choose a Deed-compliant location. Although Valencia is in the Northern Hemisphere, it is possible to hold the 33rd Match there in February because both SNG and Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) had agreed to it by mutual consent.
Were SNG to propose a location in the Southern Hemisphere instead of Valencia, we ask the defender to name it as soon as possible so that we have the maximum opportunity to make an informed assessment. We say this noting that nearly three months of the court-ordered six month minimum notice period
for the venue has gone already.
We again confirm our willingness to sit down immediately with SNG/Alinghi for talks to resolve the outstanding issues surrounding the 33rd America's Cup.
There is no reason why SNG should not ask the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to appoint an independent, neutral jury with the usual duties and powers of an international sailing jury, and to do this immediately. In that way any future disputes involving sailing rules and related issues could be referred to the jury instead of needing to go back before the court.
GGYC and BMW ORACLE Racing are eager to race in the Match, starting on 8 February 2010. Our BOR 90 is back in the water in San Diego, more refined than ever and there are further technical developments in the pipeline that we are very excited about.
BMW Oracle Racing statement from Tom Ehman
We're pleased with the court's decision today that Alinghi's choice of the venue for the 33rd America's Cup was not allowed under the Deed of Gift.
We look forward to Justice Kornreich's decision later this week regarding two additional issues.
First, we hope she will agree with our position that Alinghi cannot add additional ballast, equipment or sailors to the boat after it has been measured for compliance with the Deed of Gift's restriction on length along the load water line. Enabling any team to add additional weight after measurement - thus lengthening its load water line and increasing its speed - violates the Deed of Gift, decades of sailing practice, and the spirit of the rules that govern the America's Cup.
Second, Justice Kornreich understands the need for a fair and impartial jury. Our position is that the sailing jury must have the normal powers to adjudicate. We remain motivated to negotiate all remaining issues with Alinghi to ensure a fair, competitive and successful America's Cup in February 2010. We took a big step towards this goal today.
Oct. 27, 2009
Judge: RAK Is Out
|Given the New York Supreme Court ruling that the 33rd America's Cup scheduled for February must take place in the southern hemisphere (or Valencia, Spain), one can only assume that Alinghi 5, seen here en route to Ras Al Khaimah, will be on the move again.|
Here's the Alinghi press release:
New York Supreme Court orders 33rd America's Cup to be Deed compliant
New York, USA - (2009-10-27)
The New York Supreme Court today ruled that the 33rd America's Cup, scheduled in February 2010, must take place in a venue in the Southern Hemisphere as per the strict reading of the competition's governing document, the Deed of Gift, or in Valencia, Spain, as the only exception to that rule.
"This is a disappointing result as we were certain that Justice Cahn's May 2008 decision allowed the Defender to chose Valencia or 'any other location'," said Lucien Masmejan, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) legal counsel. "Ras Al Khaimah has put enormous time and effort into this 33rd America's Cup project. We thank them and feel sorry for this unexpected result out of the New York court".
"We are satisfied, however, as Justice Kornreich confirmed that the Deed of Gift Match will be conducted under SNG rules as she had already ruled in a previous court order," added Lucien Masmejan.
Oct. 19, 2009
"I don't think we need to promote the sport of sailing in Newport," he said, sounding downright televangelical. "I don't think we need to promote the sport of sailing in Valencia." On Oct. 1, nearly two months after Alinghi announced it planned to sail the 33rd America's Cup in RAK, BMW Oracle Racing officially challenged the validity of the location. While this was expected by just about everyone, including Alinghi, the timing was curious. The suit coincided with Alinghi's catamaran landing in the United Arab Emirates. According to BMW Oracle Racing, this was simply a result of needing to do their due diligence on RAK. Infrastructure: The Al Hamra resort village is by no means finished. But all the key elements are in place. Dr. Khater Massaad, the link between Alinghi and RAK's Crown Prince Sheikh Saud, said in Saturday's press conference that all of the state-supplied elements of the BMW Oracle Racing base on the island inside the Al Hamra lagoon Sweden, for example, draws concern because "open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution." The final front of BMW Oracle Racing's multi-pronged off-the-water offensive revolves around the defender's duty to the trust established in the Deed of Gift, an obligation to hold an equitable competition that benefits the sport. A recent letter from BMW Oracle Racing lawyer David Boies said the team is still considering suing Alinghi for a breach of fiduciary duty in handling the Cup. Alinghi has made many mistakes over the past few years, and has pressed the envelope in many ways to gain a competitive advantage. I remain disappointed that they were unable to maintain the momentum of the 32nd America's Cup, even if it meant running a duplicate event with BMW Oracle Racing as the challenge of record once the court corrected invalidated the challenge by the Club Náutico Español de Vela. Keeping secret the agreement with ISAF was a poor decision. However, nowhere does the Deed of Gift say anything about a fair or sportsmanlike competition. In fact, the most equitable part of the Deed of Gift is that it allows for a mutual consent challenge, where both the challenger and defender can agree upon the details of the competition. Failing that, the mechanism for the Deed of Gift challenge is inherently unfair, allowing the challenger an unlimited amount of time to prepare his boat before issuing the challenge while the defender, who could have as little as 10 months to build a boat, has the advantage of delaying its boat selection until the day before the regatta and sailing the event under its house rules at a venue of its choosing. How fair was it 20 years ago, when Sir Michael Fay challenged with a 120-foot sloop and was met by a 60-foot catamaran? At least for this Cup match, both teams will be bringing a gun to the fight. It's time to get the sailing underway.
During Alinghi's first official press function in Ras al-Khaimah on Saturday, Oct. 19, syndicate CEO head Ernesto Bertarelli hammered home how bringing the America's Cup to the little known emirate was motivated largely by his desire to expose the sport to a whole new legion of potential fans.
From left: Grant Simmer, Crown Prince Sheikh Saud, Ernesto Bertarelli, Dr. Khater Massadd, and Brad Butterworth kick off Alinghi's first official day of sailing on Alinghi 5 in Ras al-Khaimah. For gallery of images from the author's trip to RAK, click here.
That may have been among his motivations. But I'm confident it ranked behind the financial benefits of hosting the event in RAK and the competitive advantage of picking a site all but guaranteed to deliver the light, steady breezes and flat sea conditions perfectly matched to the capabilities of the team's monster catamaran.
The sport's premiere event deserves better than to be used like some giant carrot to lure in the uninitiated. The Cup deserves the crowds of spectator boats seen in Auckland in 2003 and Valencia in 2007. The Cup deserves a knowledgeable fan base that can appreciate the majesty of the two most technologically advanced sailing craft ever built. The NFL doesn't use the Superbowl to whet the appetite of a franchise-less city. That's what exhibition games are for. A concept, ironically enough, that Bertarelli and company grasped so triumphantly a few years back with a stunning series of America's Cup Class exhibition events Malmo, Sweden; Marseille, France; San Francisco; Newport, R.I.; and Trapani, Italy.
But all that said-and with the full knowledge that the ultimate decision will come from a judge on whether RAK, a northern hemisphere venue, can host the America's Cup in February-Ras al-Khaimah is an otherwise perfectly adequate location for the 33rd America's Cup. If Valencia in February would be agreeable to BMW Oracle Racing, then RAK should be too. The time has come for the American challenger to put down its quill, put its lawyers out to pasture, crane its monster trimaran onto a ship, and put this unfortunate chapter in America's Cup history in the rearview mirror.
Even more curious was a press release that same day outlining why BMW Oracle Racing chose to contest the validity of RAK. It cited the emirate as falling well short three key areas: wind, infrastructure, and security.
After a whirlwind tour of the United Arab Emirates sponsored by Alinghi, I disagree with each of the American team's claims. [Ed.'s note: The airfare and accommodations, for one night, were paid for by Alinghi. There were no strings attached to the invitation. While this isn't the ideal situation, it was the only way to get to RAK to see the site first-hand.]
Wind: Alinghi and Sweden's Victory Challenge both chose Dubai as a winter training location to prepare for the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia, Spain. Both teams spoke in glowing terms about the sailing conditions in Dubia during the winter months.
"There were 25 days of high quality two-boat racing from the 4th of January to the 4th of February, and they exceeded all expectations," read a Victory Challenge press release from Feb. 9, 2007. "'I have never sailed in a place with such persistent good wind conditions throughout a whole month,' says Magnus Holmberg, skipper and helmsman.
"The sailing team has been race training onboard Örn (SWE 63) and Orm (SWE 73) in all wind conditions that can be expected during the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series that starts in Valencia on the 16th of April. They have had between eight and 25 knots."
RAK isn't Dubai-as GGYC commodore Marcus Young pointed out in a letter to Fred Meyer, vice commodore of the Société Nautique de Genève. However, the drive from Dubai International Airport to the Al Hamra resort is an hour without traffic; less than from Newport, R.I., to Boston or Los Angeles to San Diego. There are no borders to cross, no major shifts in geography or landscape. In fact, were it not for my driver pointing out the transitions from one emirate to another, I would not have known we'd left Dubai proper. If Dubai has wind in February, so will RAK.
A view from the first floor of the Al Hamra resort. Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth particularly likes the back nine of the resort golf course, which is not shown in the photo.
Security: This is a yacht race. No one-sailors, shore crew, race officials, or spectator-should be worried about personal safety. Among the key supporting papers is one by Graeme Gibbon Brooks, a former British Royal Navy seaman and a security expert on the Middle East. Brooks lays out what appears to be a rather convincing case for BMW Oracle Racing. However, much of affidavit focuses on potential threats. While worthy of concern, there is turmoil throughout the world, and potential threats exist everywhere.
Think back to 2004. Spain was reeling from a massive attack on the Madrid rail system, which killed 191 people and injured more than 2,000. Blame eventually settled on an Al Qaeda-inspired cell of Muslim extremists. The country had, and still has, an active domestic terrorist group-the Basque separatist group ETA, responsible for the deaths of more than 800 people since 1968. Yet no one seemed to worry whether Valencia was a secure venue.
In the GGYC's Oct. 1 memo of law, it mentioned how "The Department of State advises that Americans traveling in Ras Al-Khaimah 'should maintain a low profile, vary routes and travel for all required travel.'" Technically, this comes from the State Deparment's travel advisory for the UAE: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and RAK are among the seven emirates that make up the UAE. Additionally, similar advisories exist for many Western countries that no one would think to question as a secure venue for an event like the America's Cup.
Alinghi's massive catamaran never lifted a hull during a light air sail on Oct. 17, but the cat still touched 15 knots of boatspeed in 7 knots of wind.
As for Valencia: "Spain's proximity to North Africa makes it vulnerable to attack from Al Qaeda terrorists in the Maghreb region The Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) terrorist organization remains active in Spain. U.S. tourists traveling to Spain should remain vigilant, exercise caution, monitor local developments, and avoid demonstrations and other potentially violent situations. The recent bombings in Burgos and Palma de Mallorca in August 2009 highlight this need."
The UAE has proven a safe enough country for thousands of the world's leading businesses. Thousands of American citizens call the UAE home. While RAK may not be as developed as Dubai or Abu Dhabi, it's part of the same country. No one can guarantee the safety of any event in any country. However, I have not seen any evidence that the threat to any individual-American or otherwise-is so significant in RAK as to disqualify it as a potential venue for the competition.
Looking from Alinghi's compound toward the site of BMW Oracle Racing's compound, should it choose to show up.
"I don't think we need to promote the sport of sailing in Newport," he said, sounding downright televangelical. "I don't think we need to promote the sport of sailing in Valencia."
On Oct. 1, nearly two months after Alinghi announced it planned to sail the 33rd America's Cup in RAK, BMW Oracle Racing officially challenged the validity of the location. While this was expected by just about everyone, including Alinghi, the timing was curious. The suit coincided with Alinghi's catamaran landing in the United Arab Emirates. According to BMW Oracle Racing, this was simply a result of needing to do their due diligence on RAK.
Infrastructure: The Al Hamra resort village is by no means finished. But all the key elements are in place. Dr. Khater Massaad, the link between Alinghi and RAK's Crown Prince Sheikh Saud, said in Saturday's press conference that all of the state-supplied elements of the BMW Oracle Racing base on the island inside the Al Hamra lagoon-roads, electricity, and dockage-could be ready in three weeks time. Setting up a base would take significantly longer-Simmer estimated two months would be needed to be prepared for the Cup match-but to claim the infrastructure is inadequate is absurd. A Deed of Gift match is the most fleeting of sporting events, with just two or three days of actual competition. A temporary village should be expected.
Sweden, for example, draws concern because "open borders with its Western European neighbors allow the possibility of terrorist groups entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Americans are reminded to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution."
The final front of BMW Oracle Racing's multi-pronged off-the-water offensive revolves around the defender's duty to the trust established in the Deed of Gift, an obligation to hold an equitable competition that benefits the sport. A recent letter from BMW Oracle Racing lawyer David Boies said the team is still considering suing Alinghi for a breach of fiduciary duty in handling the Cup. Alinghi has made many mistakes over the past few years, and has pressed the envelope in many ways to gain a competitive advantage. I remain disappointed that they were unable to maintain the momentum of the 32nd America's Cup, even if it meant running a duplicate event with BMW Oracle Racing as the challenge of record once the court corrected invalidated the challenge by the Club Náutico Español de Vela. Keeping secret the agreement with ISAF was a poor decision.
However, nowhere does the Deed of Gift say anything about a fair or sportsmanlike competition. In fact, the most equitable part of the Deed of Gift is that it allows for a mutual consent challenge, where both the challenger and defender can agree upon the details of the competition. Failing that, the mechanism for the Deed of Gift challenge is inherently unfair, allowing the challenger an unlimited amount of time to prepare his boat before issuing the challenge while the defender, who could have as little as 10 months to build a boat, has the advantage of delaying its boat selection until the day before the regatta and sailing the event under its house rules at a venue of its choosing. How fair was it 20 years ago, when Sir Michael Fay challenged with a 120-foot sloop and was met by a 60-foot catamaran? At least for this Cup match, both teams will be bringing a gun to the fight. It's time to get the sailing underway.
Aug. 11, 2009
"It's impossible for anyone to win with that agreement."
Interviews with Larry Ellison are not scheduled affairs. At least for members of the sailing press. When our paths cross, however, he's usually more than happy to share his thoughts. Such was the case today when myself, Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press, and Larry Edwards of 48 North went down to the dock hoping to snare a sound bite from Harrison Ford, the VIP of VIPs at today's BMW Oracle Racing shindig. I had my question all prepared, "So, Mr. Ford, how does this rocketship compare to the Millennium Falcon?" Unfortunately, Mr. Ford had already split for parts unknown. Or he was hiding beneath the floorboards waiting for the pesky press to get bored and split. Either way, it was time for Plan B. Larry was there; he had to walk past us to get to the party; would he spare a few minutes? Of course he would. What follows is a transcript of our 10-minute conversation.
How was the sailing today?
It was great. We got up to about 31 knots, which was fine, in about 16 knots of breeze.
How did Harrison enjoy it?
I think he really enjoyed it. He said it was one of the best days of his life. Now maybe that was an exaggeration. But it's an awful lot of fun sailing that boat.
How much time have you spent sailing this boat?
I've been out here several times; I've driven a bit. Jimmy [Spithill] just said if I come back more regularly he'll let me drive a lot, so I'm coming back [laughs]. As long as Jimmy stays close.
We heard you had a guy go overboard today?
Yes. There's a mesh around the bow that's much looser than the main mesh and it just tore loose. It's a retractable mesh and the part that retracts, he went right through and Jimmy decided not to run him over [laughs]. That's why it's good to have a good helmsman.
It speaks to what Jimmy was saying earlier about safety being his No. 1 priority.
You pay a lot of attention, everything's happening much faster on this boat. You hit somebody with the rudder going 30 knots and that's it. That's it.
But he seemed OK?
Yeah he's fine, we didn't hit him. Keep in mind, on the bow, how close he is to the center of our hull. We've just got to make sure we keep the boat straight and keep him going by. We can't turn at all.
Was there a mechanical failure? Did he step in the wrong place?
No, the mesh pulled off.
Bob Grieser/BMW Oracle Racing
|Larry Ellison (right) schools Harrison Ford on some of the basics of sailing at twice the windspeed.
Are you happy overall with where you are, six months out, knowing you've got to put an engine on?
That's not a problem. It's a problem because there's a bunch of grinders who are going to lose their jobs and I don't think it's right. It's not tradition. But if those are the rules, we're perfectly happy. We can be competitive with water ballast and an engine and everything else. That's not the part we're worried about. We're just worried about Alinghi being able to change the rules up to a minute before the race starts. I don't understand how that could possibly work. Plus we understand that Alinghi is going to control the jury and the on-water umpires. So in other words, we can win if they let us if they decide not to disqualify us. But as of right now we're going to end up back in court because I don't understand how they can change the rules right up to before the race starts. But even worse, if they control the umpires on the water and they control the jury, they can, you know, give us 10 penalties, give us 10 more circles.
When you challenged for this Cup, you did so because Alinghi drafted a protocol with the Club Náutico Español de Vela that you didn't feel was fair
Alinghi's been trying to get this deal all along. They want to control the jury, they want to control the umpires on the water. If I control the jury I can win the America's Cup a million times in a row, if I can control the jury and the umpires on the water.
When you challenged, you did so hoping you'd get a fair America's Cup competition
We're not done yet. We're gong to be back in court. We don't think Alinghi should be able to control the umpires and the jury, do you? Have you ever heard of a sports event where the umpires work for one team. Name a sporting event where one team controls the referees and the umpires.
I can't think of one, but the America's Cup has always had that unique aspect, where the defender organizes the event
Look at in New Zealand? No one's tried to do what Ernesto's tried to do. This guy is unbelievable.
How did it go during the last America's Cup?
The umpires were relatively independent. Very different from this protocol. All we asked was to go back to the protocol for the 32nd America's Cup. That's all we asked for. We thought that protocol was fine. It's only now that they think they should work for them. He doesn't want he wants to, I guess, if he's losing the race they just say big windshift happens all the time , big shift, we're losing the raced, we'll say it's a shift, race is called off.
How did it get to this point with Ernesto. You guys used to be pretty decent friends?
Kind of. We certainly were cordial when we were friends. Ernesto's afraid of losing to Russell [Coutts]. He almost lost to Team New Zealand the last time and Russell's very good at this, and Jimmy's very good at this. We've got a very good team and he doesn't think he can compete with a level playing field. He's sailed with Russell and he's sailed without Russell and they sailed a whole lot better when Russell was on their team. I've sailed with Russell and I've sailed without Russell. It's good to have Russell on your team. It's not just that he's a good sailor. He's a great engineer, he's a great manager, he's a great leader. All of those things. The first guy he recruited was Jimmy. I've raced with Jimmy and I've raced against Jimmy. I was in six regattas against this guy last year and it can be painful racing against this guy. He's is certainly the best driver in the world now.
When you go back to court are you going to appeal a standing ruling or are you going to file a new motion?
We're trying to figure out our legal strategy right now. I can't talk about ISAF agreement, the secret ISAF agreement. The court has said I cannot talk about it. We've seen the ISAF agreement and let's just set that aside. We believe Alinghi I almost have to have a lawyer here to respond we would love to have that ISAF agreement made public. Let me say that Alinghi's plan is to run the race with them in complete control of the umpires on the water and the jury. In other words Alinghi will decide if they won or lost the race. Alinghi will be the sole decider of if they won or lost the race. That's the current protocol.
If that doesn't change would you refuse to race?
No, we'd probably go out there and then you'd get a situation where we would beat them on the water and they'd say, 'You're disqualified because your mainsail track is illegal.' We want to go out there and beat them on the water and let them do that. We're going to be out there racing. We're not going to refuse to race. It is impossible for us to win if they control the jury and the umpires. We can't. They've just got to let us win. They've got to say, 'OK, they beat us on the water and we're going to choose not to disqualify you because you're nice guys." You think Ernesto's not going to disqualify us?
Then what happens?
We're probably back in court again after the race. Now we hope the court wil say that Alinghi cannot control the jury, that Alinghi cannot control the umpires and Alinghi cannot make any rule it wants one minute before the race starts. And I think we'll be successful. I think the judge, once we make our case, as to what's in the ISAF agreement. We hadn't read the ISAF agreement prior to the hearing we had with her. Now that we have read it we have very different information as to what the protocol and the race rules are.
[Russell Coutts enters]
Russell, I was just talking about, as much as I can, in the last hearing before Judge Kornreich, we had not read the ISAF agreement, so we have new arguments to make. ["That's correct," says Coutts] Setting the ISAF agreement aside, it's very clear that Alinghi's plan to go into the race with them in complete control of the umpires on the water, and complete control of the jury and with no appeal other than to Alinghi. So we could beat them by five miles and they would look at their main and said, illegal main, you lose that race. See you in two days.
When you say complete control, wouldn't the judges be ISAF-certified judges, who would have to uphold the rules of sailing? Are you worried Alinghi will be calling the judges on the phone during the race and requesting rulings?
Ask for the ISAF agreement to be made public and you tell me about ISAF-certified judges. You've got to read the ISAF agreement with Alinghi. I cannot talk about it. We have read it. You ask Alinghi to release it to you. But we cannot possibly win, it's impossible for anyone to win with that agreement.
Aug. 5, 2009
BMW Oracle Responds to Venue Choice
A short release from the American team's spokesman, Tom Ehman:
San Diego, CA, August 5, 2009 - Golden Gate Yacht Club believes Société Nautique de Genève's choice of this venue, without our mutual consent, is contrary to the Deed of Gift and the decisions and orders of the New York courts. We are reviewing our options.
Alinghi Picks Ras al-Khaimah for 33rd America's Cup
As was reported elsewhere earlier, Alinghi has picked the little known emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, which is part of the United Arab Emirates, to host the 33rd America's Cup. The syndicate made the choice official earlier today with the following press release. BMW Oracle Racing has said they will challenge any northern hemisphere venue except for Valencia. There will surely be a reply from the American team later today.
The America's Cup Defender, Alinghi, and its yacht club, the Société Nautique de Genève, today announced the venue for the 33rd America's Cup in February 2010.
"We are pleased to announce that Ras al-Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates, will be the Host Country for the 33rd America's Cup," said Fred Meyer, Vice-Commodore of the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG). "This is a venue that offers perfect weather and great sailing conditions for a Match in February; the authorities have shown tremendous interest in, and support for hosting the America's Cup; and the country has experience in organising first-class sporting events such as ATP tennis, PGA golf and Formula One. They will make a purpose-built island available at the Al Hamra Village in Ras al-Khaimah to provide the America's Cup teams, sponsors and fans with an outstanding venue."
Having won the 32nd America's Cup in 2007 in Valencia with its yacht racing team, Alinghi, the SNG is granted the right to choose the venue for the next America's Cup which is scheduled to start on 8 February 2010.
"Our absolute priorities in making this decision are the prevailing weather conditions and the resulting safety that they bring to both teams," explains Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth. "We looked everywhere for a venue that suited having good racing for the Match dates in February. We had trained in the UAE in the winter with Alinghi before and in the end we settled on Ras al-Khaimah in particular because of the infrastructure in Al Hamra Village and because it has a great building sea breeze during the day, similar to Mediterranean conditions in the summer, making it good for these boats and safe for all concerned."
His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah, expresses his satisfaction: "It is a great moment for us to host the America's Cup here. It is significant because it reflects how the Emirates have become a place for hosting international events. It is a reflection on what we have achieved in terms of becoming the destination for tourists and trade and industry and is a reflection of our integration in the world at large. This announcement reflects the nature of our country and its aim of becoming host to many nationalities who live side by side in peace. It is a hope and dream that this is the kind of space that we want to have on our globe. It is a great moment for us to host this prestigious event and to welcome all the sports people to the UAE and to Ras al-Khaimah to watch this great event; we are looking forward to its success."
Background information on the 33rd America's Cup venue
» RAS AL-KHAIMAH
Ras al-Khaimah literally means 'the top of the tent' in Arabic. One of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it covers an area of 656 square miles (1,700km2) and borders on Oman, situated in the southern part of the Persian Gulf. The emirate has a population of approx 300,000 and is ruled by HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad Al Qasimi. The Deputy Ruler is Crown Prince HH Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi. The capital city of Ras al-Khaimah is located 45 minutes from Dubai airport and is also served by the Ras al-Khaimah International airport.
» THE VENUE
A 22-hectare purpose-built island inside the Al Hamra Village lagoon will host the team bases and all the necessary facilities for the media, the sponsors and the public. The Al Hamra Village is a new luxury resort with more than 3,500 residences on the coast of Ras al-Khaimah.
» INTERNATIONAL EVENTS IN UAE
- Motorsport: Formula-1 in Abu Dhabi since 2009 (Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher )
- Golf: PGA in Dubai since 1989 and Abu Dhabi since 2006 (Woods, Els, Montgomery, García ); Tiger Woods has designed his first golf course in Dubai
- Tennis: ATP in Dubai since 1993 (Federer, Nadal, Murray, Roddick, Agassi ) and WTA in Dubai since 2001 (Williams, Hingis, Davenport )
- Sailing: RC44 in Dubai since 2007 (Coutts, Spithill, Barker, Col ) and Alinghi winter training in Dubai in 2006/7
- Football: FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi in 2009 (FC Barcelona, Estudiantes, Auckland City )
- Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi (completion expected in 2011)
- New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Abu Dhabi in 2009
» INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC INITIATIVES IN UAE
- École Polytéchnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is creating a new University campus in Ras al-Khaimah
- Harvard Medical School Dubai Centre was launched in 2004 through a joint effort by Harvard Medical and Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) to develop an academic centre for health care delivery, medical education, and research
» INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES PRESENT IN UAE
- BNP Paribas
- Credit Agricole Indosuez
- Lloyds TSB
- Standard Chartered Bank
- Philip Morris
July 6th, 2009
First Images of Alinghi's DoG Catamaran Released
The Cat, pardon the pun, is out of the bag. On Friday, the syndicate allowed a few select journalists inside it's construction tent in Villeneuve, Switzerland, for a peak-no cameras or video equipment allowed-at their monster multihull-guess I picked the wrong week to go on vacation. Fortunately, they alsoreleased a few photos. As has long been suspected, the boat is a catamaran, and a sleek looking one at that. I'm sure they will keep details like the weight closely guarded, but you can be assured this boat is light. The hulls are amazingly slender and look to be somewhat unsupported forward of the forward crossbeam. The last time we saw a boat of this size with such a structure would probably be the ill-fated Team Phillips, which broke up while trying to qualify for the Race in late 2000.
|It's official, Alinghi will defend the 33rd America's Cup in a 90-foot (waterline) catamaran.
Here's the text of an Alinghi release announcing the big cat's unveiling:
Alinghi, the Defender of the 33rd America's Cup, unveiled its 90ft catamaran this weekend in Villeneuve, Switzerland. This multihull represents a culmination of Swiss multihull heritage and is the first step in Alinghi's development process towards the 33rd America's Cup in February 2010. The boat will be launched by helicopter next week on Lake Geneva before the process of 'debugging' begins and the boat goes sailing for the first time.
Grant Simmer, design team coordinator, comments on the achievement: "Firstly this boat only exists because of Ernesto Bertarelli's 100% commitment to the team and his support and enthusiasm for this project. The boat demonstrates the talent and creativity of the designers and the skill and dedication of the boatbuilding and technical teams in building a boat of this complexity, facing many different challenges along the way and solving them to pull the project together. Finally, and more recently, the sailing team has defined many of the systems; they have worked with the designers to define the simplest possible solutions for what is already a very complex boat."
Rolf Vrolijk, chief designer: "People who see the boat for the first time seem surprised at how light and fragile it looks, that is really their first impression. Creating it has been a huge team effort, both in the design and the build groups; it has been a phenomenal team effort to come up with the concept and it really represents the depth of our group. For the moment we have pushed the envelope as much as we would like, this boat is really a base for further development and over the coming weeks we will collect as much information as we can and cross check it with the predictions, this will help us assess what level we are at and then to optimise from there. We have several opportunities and possibilities to change the concept but first we need a solid base to do our studies from."
Murray Jones, strategist and design team responsible for mast and rig programme: "This multihull is nothing like you've ever seen before in a big boat. It's like a small boat but scaled up. It's a highly finely tuned and engineered boat that's light. It's a piece of art. Alinghi 5 has evolved from the Swiss sailing boats, like the 41ft 'Le Black'. The basic engineering concept has come from 'Le Black' but everything else has come from the Alinghi design team, starting from a completely blank sheet of paper, with no preconceived multihull ideas. We started designing it and building it and we've done a lot of sailing and testing on 'Le Black' and the Décision 35s so we've incorporated some of the ideas we've picked up sailing these boats.
The focus of the concept and the design and build of the boat has been on what we need to sail a Deed of Gift Match: up/down racing of 20miles. We haven't focused on the other team at all, only concentrating on what makes our boat go the fastest. It's been a big job for quite a small design team and we'll see the results soon."
Information about the boat
Boat type: Catamaran of carbon composite construction
Where built: Alinghi Villeneuve + Décision Corsier, Switzerland
Length waterline: 90ft
Hours to build: 100,000 manhours
Square metres of carbon fibre used: 30,000m2
June 14, 2009
Alinghi Provides First Glimpse at DoG Multihull
The America's Cup defender released its first public images of its multihull, showing the catamaran (at least that what it appears to be, probably with a central pod for rig tension) in comparison to an America's Cup Class boat and a Décision 35 catamaran.
Given the concern that Alinghi would produce a two-masted, 115-foot boat-which would have thrown the Cup right back into court for another round of hearings-it was a relief to see what appears to be a single-masted boat. Using the ACC for comparison, I estimate the overall length of the multihull to be 105 feet, with a mast height of around 165 to 170 feet. Of course that's assuming the sizes are truly proportional. According to the Deed of Gift, single-masted challengers are restricted to 90 feet long on the load water line. I would expect to see the Alinghi boat resting quite high in the water, with a fairly long stern overhang. Of course, when the boat loads up, the full 105 feet would come into play. According to the press release, Alinghi expects to launch this boat in the next few weeks. Watch this space for more.
|The Alinghi Deed of Gift multihull (at right) shown with a Décision 35 catamaran (far left) and an ACC boat. Using those boats as guides, the multihull appears to be around 105 feet long.
June 8, 2009
Louis Vuitton Looking to Build Upon Pacific Series
A month or so back, I pulled my head out of the audio I was transcribing for a story in our July/August issue, turned toward the front door of the Bonnier Marine Group offices, and thought, "I must be hallucinating."
My eyes told me that there in the foyer, in a rumpled red blazer, was none other than Louis Vuitton's man main in sailing, Bruno Troublé, former America's Cup skipper for France, media center guru, and marketing machine. I blinked once, then twice, and finally decided that it was in fact Mr. Troublé and I should probably go out and see what he wanted.
As it turned out, Troublé was looking for a few copies of our May issue, which featured a story by Angus Phillips on the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland last February. However, that didn't quite explain why he was in Newport. He continued on to tell he us was in town scouting out the possibility of holding a LVPS-style event in Newport later in the summer. He said that Louis Vuitton was willing to put up the bulk of the multi-million-dollar budget, including shipping the Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle Racing ACC boats to Newport. But he added with a self-effacing shrug, he was surprised to find how tight the municipal budgets were in the U.S. He said he'd know more in a few weeks. He also mentioned a possible event in Hong Kong.
I recently emailed Troublé to check in. Obviously this would be a pretty big deal, especially since it would be in our back yard. "Because of the short [time frame], lack of part of the budget and logistical difficulties," he wrote, "we are not going to come to Newport this year. We hope to come next year!"
Amen to that. By all accounts, the LVPS was a fantastic event for both spectators and competitors and it's great to see that Louis Vuitton didn't necessarily view it as a one-time affair. By next summer, we will hopefully be into the next phase of the America's Cup, with a new class, a new schedule, maybe a new defender. However, a series of LVPS-style events would be a perfect way to ramp things up again while the defender and challenger of record sort through the process of creating a protocol. My guess is they'll take a little more time with it than Alinghi and Club Náutico Español de Vela did in 2007. The relatively inexpensive format gives smaller teams an easy way to dip their toes into the water, established teams some exposure to their sponsors and employment for their sailors, enables everyone to test out new recruits, and is a great spectacle for the sport.
It's very reassuring to see that Louis Vuitton is by no means done with the sailing and the America's Cup. The relationship with Alinghi is likely fractured beyond repair, but when Ernesto Bertarelli is displaced from the defender's role-something which recent history says will happen in the near future, no one has successfully defender the Cup more than once since the San Diego YC in 1988 and 1992-I suspect we'll see Louis Vuitton back in the Cup game, quite possibly in its traditional role of challenge selector series sponsor.
In the meantime, we'll catch up with Troublé again in September. When he said "we are not going to come to Newport this year," he was speaking for Louis Vuitton. Troublé himself will be back in September to helm the Yacht Club de France's entry in the New York YC's World Invitational Cup. I wouldn't bet against him.
May 14, 2009
We Have the 'What' and the 'When', Now We Need the 'Where'
The America's Cup's latest foray into the New York State court system was thankfully short. Shirley Werner Kornreich, where have you been for the past 3 years? The Cup will be sailed in February. Amazingly enough, within moments of the decision both teams sent out releases confirming that is what will happen. Of course, that doesn't mean we're done with the courts, even when it comes to the issue of scheduling. But it does appear the 33rd Cup will be in multithulls in February. Alinghi has to announce the location six months before the contest. And you can bet they'll wait until the last possible moment.
Release from BMW Oracle Racing/Golden Gate YC:
Court Affirms February 2010 for 33rd America's Cup
New York, NY, May 14, 2009 - Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich in the Supreme Court of the State of New York today upheld an earlier decision of the NY Court of Appeals to stage the America's Cup in February 2010.
"Today's hearing should end any further delay to the 33rd America's Cup and we can now look forward to some exciting racing in state-of-the-art boats early next year," Tom Ehman, GGYC spokesman, said following the hearing.
On April 7, 2009, the New York State Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that GGYC is the rightful Challenger of Record and that the next match would be in ten months - early February 2010.
However, in an April 23 letter to GGYC, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) sought to unilaterally dictate that the match date be delayed to May 2010 in defiance of the Court, which triggered a motion to hold SNG in contempt of court.
Statement from Alinghi/Société Nautique de Genève
Société Nautique de Genève and Alinghi welcome Justice Shirley Kornreich's decision and confirm that it will be adhered to. The Defender of the 33rd America's Cup also welcomes the clarity that it brings. We now know that the America's Cup Match can take place in the Northern Hemisphere regardless of the date, which Justice Kornreich said can be agreed through mediation. In the event of no agreement being reached, Alinghi, representing the SNG, will race BMW Oracle, representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club, in February 2010. In another important decision, Justice Kornreich ordered the GGYC to stick to the specifications of their Notice of Challenge and instructed the Challenger of Record to provide the Custom-House Registry as soon as possible."
Note to the Editor: The choice of venue is decided by the Defender of the America's Cup and will be announced six months before the America's Cup Match.
May 7, 2009
Enough Meetings, What This Cup Needs is More Mudslinging
The America's Cup brouhaha got back into more familiar waters (not literally, of course) when BMW Oracle Racing fired back with a short, sweet, and not the least bit cordial letter yesterday. In response to Alinghi's letter of May 5th, which accused BMW Oracle Racing of playing possum during the late April meeting in Geneva when it came to the dates of the match and requested one more meeting befor the court date on May 15th, Golden Gate YC commodore Marcus Young said: "We write in response to your letters of April 23 and May 5, 2009. They contain numerous self-serving factual statements that we believe are entirely inaccurate, and we strong disagree with many of the positions that you have taken in those letters.
"Therefore, and regrettably, we find it hard to believe that your invitation to meet before the Court hearing on May 14, 2009 is anything but a litigation tactic."
Now that's more like it. We know you don't like each other, so just let those uppercuts fly.
There was however, one surprising development in the case on Wednesday. The Italian Circolo Vela Gargnano, which sponsored the +39 Challenge in 2007, sent a letter to BMW Oracle Racing stating that it would like the opportunity to compete with BMW Oracle Racing for the right to challenge Alinghi for the 33rd America's Cup, "provided enough time is given to the challengers to prepare."
Some are sure to wonder whether Ernesto Bertarelli encouraged the CVG to act. It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility. And there's nothing to lose for Alinghi. A few more races only means more chances for Oracle's trimaran to break. BMW Oracle's response to the CVG employed the classic America's Cup "hide behind the litigation" technique.
"As you will be aware," wrote Young in his reply to CVG president Lorenzo Rizzardi, so nice of him to assume that Rizzardi doesn't know the state of the Cup, "there is litigation pending concerning AC33. It would in appropriate to comment further on your letter until that litigation is resolved."
In other words, "Bugger off; two's a party, three's a crowd."
You can find copies of all the letters on the GGYC site, click here for the PDFs.
May 6, 2009
Top Marks For Civility
I have to give the Société Nautique de Genève credit, they are unfailingly polite in their public communiques. Take the first sentence of the latest letter to Golden Gate YC commodore Marcus Young: "We write to invite you to resume the meeting of April 23, 2009 between SNG and GGYC and to continue our discussions about the details of the next America's Cup..."
My gut instinct says that the members of the SNG and Alinghi are masking their true feelings. What? Your instinct says that too?
The latest letter from the Swiss defense syndicate lobs a few more grenades in the direction of BMW Oracle Racing, but it seems there's little substance unless their aim is to prove the BMW Oracle Racing and the GGYC have been slightly infururiating negotiating partners. Yeah, we knew that. And I think the feeling's mutual.
The issue of the custom-house registry comes up again. Alinghi wants it, pronto. And yet another meeting is proposed, this one for May 11, four days before the next court ruling. At this stage, it seems safe to assume that the only way to resolve a disagreement between these two teams is through the New York State court system.
If you'd like to read the latest Alinghi letter, you can find a PDF of it here.
Alinghi.com speaks to Ed Baird, helmsman for the Defender:
|Ed Baird and the Alinghi sailing team have started their multihull training program for 2009 in the Décision 35 catamarans.|
What are you and the crew doing this week?
We are on Lake Geneva, in a town called Nyon, in Switzerland, and we are going out sailing on the D35s that we are going to sail all summer. This is our first time together as a group on the boat to try and experiment and learn a little bit about how they work. We are trying to get ready for the races that start this weekend.
Ernesto started this class way back and he's been racing on these boats since they were originally conceived. This is the first time for us. There was a boat that wasn't being used and we were able to charter it for the season, for part of the season actually, because we can't do all of the races, but we'll have another team within our team to race against and train against and that will be interesting.
What sort of competition do you expect in this multihull fleet?
My understanding is that there are going to be 12 boats this year, which is fantastic. Last year it was 10 and now a couple more. There are several great teams that have been here since the beginning but there are some new ones that are going to be tough as well. We know we have our work cut out for us to try to catch up and learn about sailing these boats, but that's the position we are in for this next America's Cup, it's to try to get better at multihulls.
Last year you raced the eXtreme 40s and won the iShares Cup - how do those boats compare to the D35?
In some ways the X40s and the D35s are similar. They are not that different in length and they have gennakers, and mains and jibs, but the D35s have a lot more sophisticated equipment. There is a lot more that you can manipulate on the boat to control the way the sails are, the way the boat is able to move through the water and there are more sails. We have more to select from for the different wind speeds, and it's a more powerful boat overall, so it's going to be a real handful to try to get used to. It's good that we had the opportunity last year to sail the X40s, but this is definitely a more difficult step.
Who is the crew racing with you?
We are pretty lucky to have some of the same guys we raced together with last summer, but we are also trying to teach a new gang what they need to learn and learn together: Warwick Fleury, Brad Butterworth, Murray Jones, will all be sailing this summer. Of course Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen and Lorenzo Mazza are here and they were with me all last year. We have a different group of people supporting us: Juan Vila, Peter Evans, who was with us last year, and quite a number of different folks that are coming looking at the different things that these boats do to try to learn from it.
April 30, 2009
The word on the street is that Alinghi will build a catamaran to race against BMW Oracle Racing's trimaran. This rumor is strengthened by today's press release that Alinghi will embark on an extensive training program in the Décision 35 circuit on the Swiss lakes. Should Alinghi build a trimaran it would seem logical that they would use the three-hull concept of the D35 catamarans, which feature a central hull for stiffness-it doesn't touch the water.
|The D35 catamarans, the central hull is for stiffness only, are moved about the Swiss lakes via helicopter. Alinghi will use the 12-boat circuit to train for the 33rd America's Cup.
Alinghi, 33rd America's Cup Defender, has started its 2009-2010 multihull campaign in Switzerland launching the two Décision 35 catamarans that will be used as training platforms towards a multihull America's Cup in May 2010. The sailing team will be dedicated to multihull training, racing the Challenge Julius Baer on Lake Geneva for the rest of the season and withdrawing from other monohull commitments.
In addition to Ernesto Bertarelli's original SUI1, the team has chartered a second Décision 35 (SUI6) for the season and the two grand prix multihulls will race the eight events that span the summer, starting on 8 May with the Grand Prix Corum.
Ed Baird will helm Alinghi SUI6 with Brad Butterworth as tactician while Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi president, will helm Alinghi SUI1. "Ernesto and his team have been strong in this class for years, we look forward to learning from and with them throughout the season," said Baird. "We realise we have a lot to learn, and there will be a number of great crews to race against, so we're excited to have the opportunity to get back on the water in a competitive environment."
The Alinghi multihulls will face a strong 10-boat fleet that includes some of the best offshore multihull sailors in the world, and while an Alinghi team has won the last two championships on the Lake, the group is candid in its expectations: "We are here to try to win, just as we did last year, but this season is going to be tough: the circuit has two new boats (Veltigroup and Banque Populaire) manned by highly professional multihull sailors with lots of experience, so the starts of the races will be more challenging. We will definitely be trying to keep the trophy in our hands though!" said Yves Detrey, Alinghi bow/mastman.
The first event, the Grand Prix Corum is from 8-10 May at the Société Nautique de Genève, so the Alinghi teams will start training from next Monday, "the D-35's represent a more sophisticated racing multihull than we have experienced before, and we need all the training opportunities we can get as we prepare for an America's Cup in multihulls," Ed Baird concluded.
Club: Société Nautique de Genève
Ernesto Bertarelli, helmsman; Pierre-Yves Jorand, mainsail trimmer, performance; Nils Frei, trimmer; Yves Detrey, bow/mastman, boat captain; JC Monnin, trimmer, performance; Luc Dubois, helmsman, performance; Tanguy Cariou, tactician; Coraline Jonet, trimmer; Andrew Graham, spare; Claudy Dewarrat, coach; Christian Wahl, tactician
Club: Société Nautique de Genève
Ed Baird, helmsman; Brad Butterworth, tactician; Warwick Fleury, mainsail trimmer; Lorenzo Mazza, trimmer; Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen, bow/mastman; Curtis Blewett, bow/mastman; Murray Jones, tactician
D35 racing programme
Challenge Julius Baer 2009
8-10 May 2009 Grand Prix Corum
23-24 May 2009 Grand Prix Romandie.com - Act I
6 June 2009 Genève-Rolle-Genève
13 June 2009 Bol d'Or Mirabaud
27-28 June 2009 Grand Prix Romandie.com - Act II
22-23 August 2009 Open de Nyon
5-6 September 2009 HP Cup La Réserve
18-20 September 2009 Grand Prix Beau-Rivage Palace
Additional information on the Décision 35 class
The D35 catamaran is a strict one design concept constructed with materials produced by cutting edge technology - its improved aerodynamics result in a lighter and faster craft. With the distinctive feature of three hulls - the outer two acting as floats and the central hull acting as a strengthening structure - this catamaran is well suited to racing. The D35 Class was founded in 2004 by Swiss sailors for friendly competition on Swiss lakes.
Design team: Damien Cardenoso, Bertrand Cardis, Christian Favre, Jean-Marie Fragnière, Gérard Gautier, Rémi Laval-Jeantet, Sébastien Schmidt and Steve Wasem
Length overall LOA 14.95m (49ft)
Beam 8.74m (29ft)
Dry weight 1200kg
Draft 3.2m (10.5ft)
Mast height 20m (65.6ft)
Mainsail area 81.6m2 (878ft2)
Gennaker area 70.8m2 (762ft2)
Jib area 40.7m2 (438ft2)
Top speed 25 knots
Crew 5 (minimum) - 6 men or 7 women (maximum)
April 29, 2009
Back to Court
When Alinghi said it was ready to race BMW Oracle Racing, I think we all breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, the court battles were over and we could look forward to some actual sailing. But then when the Swiss syndicate added, in May of 2010, we all knew the Cup had at least one more visit to the New York State court system. And so it is. Hopefully this will be a short detour, and whether in May or in February, as BMW Oracle Racing would prefer, we'll get this multihull event over and done with and move forward. If the court forces Alinghi into a February match, which would seem the most likely course of action at this stage, then the defender will have to notify BMW Oracle Racing of the location of the match in early August, six months before the first race.
Here's the text of BMW Oracle Racing's latest press release:
New York, NY, April 28, 2009 - At Golden Gate Yacht Club's request, the Supreme Court of the State of New York today issued an order directing the defender, Société Nautique de Genève, to show cause why it should not be held in contempt of court. SNG has refused to comply with the Court's April 7, 2009 Order and Judgment concerning the dates for the next America's Cup match.
The court scheduled a hearing for May 14, 2009 at 0930.
In early April the New York State Court of Appeals, in a unanimous 6-0 ruling, held that GGYC is the rightful challenger, and that the next match would be in ten months, meaning early February 2010.
However, in a letter last week to GGYC, SNG unilaterally dictated that the match would be in May 2010 in defiance of the Court's April 7 Order and Judgment. SNG and Alinghi officials also made the same statements widely in the media.
"By forcing litigation over our rightful challenge, they have already managed to delay the match from July 2008 to February 2010," said GGYC spokesman Tom Ehman. "Now they seek another three-month delay, in defiance of the Court's clear mandate. Enough is enough."
At a meeting with SNG representatives in Geneva last week, GGYC's straight-forward proposal for a conventional, multi-challenger America's Cup in monohulls was categorically rejected by SNG.
Not surprisingly, Alinghi was quick to draft a reply.
BMW Oracle Racing (BOR) and its club Golden Gate (GGYC) have again chosen the New York law courts, instead of accepting an invitation to another meeting to discuss the terms of the 33rd America's Cup. They have ignored both our proposal to open the competition to other challengers and our invitation to agree to mutual consent terms.
As Defender of the America's Cup, Alinghi and the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) are duty bound to fulfill the Deed of Gift that governs the event. The document clearly states that May is the earliest possible date for a race in the Northern Hemisphere, where both clubs are located. The New York Supreme Court Order does not instruct us to breach our duties as trustee.
The Deed of Gift also states that the Challenger of Record should provide the Defender with a Custom-House Registry of the vessel 'as soon as possible'. This they also ignore. The Deed of Gift is not a document to be cast aside at convenience: the wording is clear on the matter of the dates and cannot be dismissed because it does not suit GGYC and BMW Oracle Racing's current wishes.
The Société Nautique de Genève is prepared to defend its position, which fully respects the Deed of Gift as the governing document of the America's Cup, before the New York Supreme Court and will require BOR and the GGYC to do the same.
April 23, 2009
So Much For Optimism
Who let the DoGs out? That will be the question sure to be debated over the next few months as it appears that the net result of the meeting in Geneva between representatives of Alinghi/Société Nautique de Genève and BMW Oracle Racing/Golden Gate YC is that the 33rd America's Cup will be the first to feature a Deed of Gift multihull vs. multihull lineup.
Here's the statement from Alinghi:
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.
Of course, BMW Oracle had their spin on it:
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.
So the question is was it Ernesto Bertarelli's refusal to reliquish any control of the America's Cup Management or Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison's refusal to accept any of Alinghi's proposed modifications in how the Cup should run that ultimately pushed the teams into this stalement? Or a little bit of both
Like every America's Cup discussion this one leaves more than a few unaswered questions. The biggest one right now will be the date of the Deed of Gift competition. It would appear that Alinghi has run out of cards to play when it comes to postponing the match. If the court order stands, we'll see this spectacle in February. The sooner the better, that's for sure.
April 22, 2009
BMW Oracle, Alinghi to Meet in Geneva
Maybe I'm being optimistic, but I just can't shake the feeling that something positive will come out of Thursday's meeting between representatives of BMW Oracle Racing/Golden Gate YC and Alinghi/Société Nautique de Genève. And by positive, I mean substantial progress toward a multi-challenger event in 2011.
The speculation to fact ratio is off the charts right now, however. Neither team has said much of anything since the decision from the New York State Court of Appeals in late March. But we do know the teams are meeting at the SNG club house on Lake Geneva on Thursday.
Attending for Alinghi will be: Brad Butterworth (Alinghi team skipper), Lucien Masmejan (SNG counsel) and Fred Meyer (SNG vice-commodore).
Attending for BMW Oracle Racing will be: Melinda Erkelens (BMW Oracle Racing general counsel and GGYC board member), Richard Slater (BMW Oracle Racing Rules Advisor), and Manolo Ruiz de Elvira (BMW Oracle Racing design team).
The make up of the BMW Oracle trio is interesting. No Russell Coutts, in fact no one from the sailing team. I take that to be a good sign. If BMW Oracle Racing really wanted to force a Deed of Gift match, all they need to do was send Coutts over. I can't imagine the sight of him walking through the doors of the SNG would do anything positive for the negotiations.
More hope can be found in the text of a letter sent from the GGYC to the SNG on Wednesday. In it the challenger re-states its desire for a multi-challenger event, but also agrees to the use of the new AC33 class-which has been one point Alinghi hasn't budged on, their desire to ditch the ACC class and move forward with a faster boat-and cost-cutting measures such as the one-boat-per-team limitation.
But there are also some potential roadblocks. It appears that BMW Oracle will want some control over ACM as it asks for the "board of ACM agreed by mutual consent." Whether Alinghi CEO Ernesto Bertarelli will give up any control in the cash cow that is ACM remains to be seen.
A second option is intriguing, but I can't see it going far. The BMW Oracle letter suggests that an alternative would be "a traditional format of a separate Challenger Selection Series organized at your venue by Louis Vuitton (if they agree to this role); i.e., the Challengers will provide the winner of the LV Cup, and the Challengers will re-assume the financial and organizational responsibilities for this series."
While the America's Cup and the ultimate match is a valuable commodity, the challenge selection series is a much more extensive event and, in terms of marketing exposure, probably more valuable, though I'm guessing at that. Either way, I can't see Bertarelli giving up that much control. This would also likely prevent Alinghi from participating in any part of the CSS, which was a key point of Bertarelli's plan to cut costs by limiting each team to one boat. If Alinghi can't race in the challenger selection series-and can only build one boat-it's going to have a hard time getting ready for the Cup match.
The meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. local time, which is 4:30 a.m. EDT. We'll post updates as we get them.
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
April 16, 2009
James Spithill on the Monster Tri, Multihull Sailing, and his Future in the Sport
Sailing World Podcast Series: While his bosses hash out the details of the 33rd America's Cup with rival Alinghi, James Spithill (left, with Russell Coutts, right) tries to squeeze as much sailing as possible around his dutes sheparding the BMW Oracle Racing trimaran through its development process. An interview from March 23, in San Diego.
April 7, 2009
GGYC Releases Statement
After many months of not missing any chance to throw a verbal or web-based barb at each other, BMW Oracle Racing and Alinghi have been eerily quite since the New York State Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the American syndicate, reinstating it as the challenger of record for the 33rd America's Cup.
Personally, given how little progress has been while these two teams while fighting publicly, I think this has to be a good sign. Hopefully they're working on the framework for a multichallenger event in 2010, with some pre-regattas this summer.
Here's the statement from BMW Oracle Racing.
Valencia, Spain, 7 April 2009 -- The Golden Gate Yacht Club and its team, BMW ORACLE Racing, remain committed to negotiate with the Defender, Société Nautique de Genève/Alinghi, a conventional mutual consent protocol for the next America's Cup that would involve all teams.
This follows the April 2 decision of the New York State Court of Appeals confirming the Golden Gate Yacht Club as the Challenger of Record for the 33rd America's Cup.
BMW ORACLE Racing's owner, Larry Ellison, and the President of Alinghi, Ernesto Bertarelli, have communicated with each other since the court ruling.
At this stage the club believes it is best to keep communications between the parties private in the interests of reaching a successful conclusion as quickly as possible.
April 3, 2009
Most, if Not All, Signs Point to Multihull Showdown
A Deed of Gift match is a best of three series according to the founding America's Cup document. So wouldn't it be poetic if the Golden Gate YC vs. Société Nautique de Genève were now tied at 1 win apiece in their epic court battle, with the final deciding court ruling for all the marbles yet to come? Winner take all, costs, and much shame, to the loser. Yeah, I agree, this is no time for poetic justice.
While I wouldn't rule out any further court time in this current America's Cup legal saga, the court was unequivocal in its latest decision (click here for PDF), which went in favor of Golden Gate YC and Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing, overturning a split-panel decision by the same body just a few months ago, which in turn overruled a decision from Justice Herman Cahn of the New York State Supreme Court.
The bottom line of today's decision is that the challenge issued by the Spanish Club Náutico Español de Vela moments after the thrilling conclusion to the 32nd America's Cup, in July 2007, has been, once again, deemed null and void because the club didn't, at the time it issued the challenge, meet the requirements set out in the deed for a challenger. This makes Golden Gate YC, which issued its own challenge on behalf of BMW Oracle Racing a few weeks later, the official challenger for the 33rd America's Cup.
"Today, we are called upon to reexamine the Deed of Gift to determine the eligibility criteria for a Challenger of Record -- specifically whether the phrase "having for its annual regatta" requires a yacht club to hold an annual regatta on the sea prior to issuing its challenge (Deed of Gift, October 24, 1887, ¶ 4). We conclude that it does."
That quote is from page 2 of the 12-page decision. There's a lot more after that, but this is the nut. Of course, plenty of people are wondering how this same court could've decided, just a few months ago, that this wasn't the case; that the homeless, almost-memberless, and apparently phoneless CNEV could be a legitimate challenger of record for the America's Cup. I'm one of them. No matter how you feel about this decision, there's no question the Cup would be further down the track to getting back to the water if the Court of Appeals had come to this conclusion the first time they reviewed Justice Cahn's initial decision to disqualify CNEV.
So the question now is what comes next, and when. Previous rulings from the New York court system have seemed to indicate that the 10-month clock-counting down the minimum time between challenge and competition-starts when all the legal wrangling reaches a termination. That would mean, if Valencia were to be the location of the 33rd Cup, we wouldn't see it until after May 1, 2010 as all Northern Hemisphere challenges must take place between May 1 and November 1. Of course, in one of his earlier decisions, Justice Cahn completely ignored this provision of the Deed of Gift and scheduled the regatta for March 2009. Of course that didn't happen.
As for what the regatta will look like? Well it could look just like the previous one. According to BMW Oracle Racing, that is what Ellison and CEO Russell Coutts have said they want to see. However, that doesn't quite jive with Alinghi's plan to move the Cup forward with a new boat and a focus on less expensive campaigns. To date, Alinghi has been unwilling to budge from this plan.
According to an email from Alinghi's PR department, syndicate head Ernesto Bertarelli has already tried to contact Ellison and open the lines of communication. While this could be the first step toward a proper multi-challenger regatta, the consensus opinion seems to be that the next Cup race will be a Deed of Gift match between two 90-foot multihulls
"I am happy for Oracle's victory," said Mascalzone Latino head Vincenzo Onorato in a press release. "I would like to remind everyone that Mr. Bertarelli was the one who excluded Russell Coutts from the last edition of the America's Cup: the greatest race in the world without the greatest yachtsman of all time! Get lost Alinghi and the same goes to all those teams of cunning professionals who hypocritically supported him until now.
"The boat race returns to the water, as the judges of the Supreme Court of New York have written and sanctioned. We will live the super match of the third millennium among [sic] the two "trima-monsters" of Oracle and Alinghi in a showdown at the OK Corral."
A press release from K-Challenge, which like Mascalzone had officially entered the 33rd America's Cup propsed by Alinghi and CNEV, had this, from CEO Stephane Kandler:
"This situation had to come to an end, and this is now done. May the best win on the water. The America's Cup is an historical event, and it has come through a lot of similar situations in the past, we mustn't forget that. It will come out even stronger out of that. In the meantime, the K-Challenge Sailing Team has already chosen to use the time given to work with the new generation which will challenge in the next America's Cup. This is a new approach, that we never had the chance to benefit from in France in this mythical competition, and we will work more than ever to catch it! We absolutely need to have a long term vision if we want to win this competition one day, and this is for that reason we've never stopped fighting with my team in 8 years!"
Alinghi released a brief statement:
"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."
BMW Oracle Racing said it would reserve comment for the moment.
April 2, 2009
Golden Gate Wins Appeal. Is Monster Tri Showdown Back On?
Word from BMW Oracle Racing's press office is that Golden Gate YC (aka BMW Oracle Racing) has won its hearing with the New York State Court of Appeals. This would presumably invalidate the challenge from Club Náutico Español de Vela (again) and return Golden Gate YC to the role of challenger of record. While GGYC has said they are still hoping for a traditional multi-challenger event, Alinghi head Ernesto Bertarelli and BMW Oracle Racing's Larry Ellison have had no luck finding any common ground. Alinghi has repeatedly said that if it fails to win its court hearing, it will race BMW Oracle Racing in a Deed of Gift match. If that's what this has come to-and there's every possibility this case will see more court time-the big question is when. The required 10-month lead time would take us to February 2, 2010. More details when the decision is released later today.
March 5, 2009
BMW Oracle Wraps Up Third Testing Session on Monster Tri
I guess you can put this into the plus column when evaluating the good and the bad of having a Deed of Gift challenge. ESPN.com doesn't pick up too many stories about the America's Cup, especially when the actual competition is an undetermined amount of time down the road. But they did run this one, excerpt below.
American syndicate BMW Oracle Racing concluded the third testing session with its giant trimaran on Tuesday afternoon and plans significant modifications while waiting to find out if the boat will ever sail for the America's Cup.
BMW Oracle Racing, which has been testing the boat off and on in San Diego since last fall, plans to pull the boat out of the water on Wednesday. It wouldn't give specifics on what modifications will be done to the carbon-fiber boat, which is 90 feet long and 90 feet wide and has a mast as tall as a 16-story building.
"We've really pushed the boat harder than we ever have before," helmsman James Spithill said. "It's pretty impressive to see it all come together."
March 3, 2009
Alinghi Appoints Pedrick to Head Measurement Committee
While we wait for the New York State COurt of Appeals to issue it's ruling, Alinghi keeps chugging forward with its plans for the 33rd America's Cup in the new AC33 class of boat. From an Alinghi press release:
At a fifth 33rd America's Cup Competitor Meeting today in Valencia, Alinghi, the Defender, the Spanish Challenger of Record and 16 of the 17 challengers (China absent) discussed amendments to the Competition Regulations, which are now in the final drafting stage. They also agreed a Protocol amendment which will loosen the restriction on designers moving between teams. The group appointed two additional members of the Arbitration Panel: David Kellett (AUS), ISAF Vice-President, and Peter Leaver (GBR), a UK barrister since 1967 and Chairman of the Court of Arbitration for Sport, will join Henry Peter (SUI), Luis Maria Cazorla (ESP) and Graham McKenzie (NZL). The 19 competitors also named David Pedrick (USA) Technical Director for the 33rd America's Cup.
Pedrick, involved in the America's Cup since 1974, will be Chairman of the Measurement Committee - made up of no less than two additional members - that ensures compliance with the AC33 rules and any other measurement requirements. "It is exciting to be engaged in the America's Cup in this way, to actually be part of helping this new class of yacht be successful for the 33rd America's Cup. The configuration of the new AC33 class is pretty tightly and simply defined, but there may be some loopholes that we don't yet understand and will need to be mindful of. The construction is defined in a simpler way than with the ACC class and there may be some structural situations that will need careful monitoring. Because this is a new class and all the interpretations are to be public, the hope is that the dialogue with the competitors will be such that if there is uncertainty they will feel free to ask the questions early."
The Host City agreement was also discussed today along with plans to run the pre-regattas in 2009 and the Match in 2010 in Valencia. Negotiations are moving forward with the Spanish administrations and AC Management is confident of announcing a deal with Valencia in the near future. The competitors decided that participation in the 2009 pre-regattas on ACC Version 5.0 yachts is to be compulsory for all teams and it is intended that syndicates be allocated bases once they confirm their participation in these races.
Feb. 9, 2009
Cup Battles in Two Hemispheres
The elimination round of the LVPS, which is appropriately byzantine in structure-this is the America's Cup after all and nothing should ever be simple-starts on Tuesday. Ironically enough, while Alinghi, BMW Oracle Racing, and others are battling off Auckland, Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing will be battling in Albany, N.Y., as well. While the battle in Albany involves no lines, sails, windshifts, or marks, I'm pretty sure Ellison and Bertarelli would both trade a loss in Auckland for a win in New York. The latter will have much more lasting implications. NPR's Only A Game offers a concise summary of what's a stake in New York, with a good amount of spin from both parties. Link to it here, scroll down and click on the America's Cup section tab to hear the story.
Jan. 30, 2009
Alinghi Unveils New America's Cup Class Boat, Again
I guess for the Swiss defender, there isn't really any other way to go about things. According to the judge (or more accurately, the panel of judges) the Spanish Club Náutico Español de Vela is the challenger of record and until someone says otherwise, the next America's Cup will be in a new class of boats and ACM might as well get cracking with creating that new boat. No time like the present.
And it looks like a sweet craft. No doubt about it. But it's hard to get too excited when it's still essentially vaporware. Whether it becomes reality or not is totally dependent on the next round (and maybe a few more rounds after that) of court hearings in New York.
|The AC33 design (right) shares similar overall dimensions to the previous America's Cup Class boat (right), but at 72 percent of the weight, which should drastically improve downwind performance.|
But since it's out there, here's the basics on the AC33 design as delivered via an Alinghi press release.
The AC33 has been designed through consultation between the Defender, the Challenger of Record and the 17 other entered teams and the process was headed by Tom Schnackenberg as the class rule and competition regulations consultant for AC Management. Designers and team managers from the 19 America's Cup syndicates met regularly in Geneva, Switzerland, and Valencia, Spain, since the design process began in early November 2008. Tom Schnackenberg, class rule and competition regulations consultant for ACM, on how the process worked and what to expect of the new class:
This group agreed to develop a boat similar in cost to the America's Cup Class Version 5.0 boat, but with a more exciting performance. The AC33 Rule evolved to a race yacht of 26m maximum length overall, with 5m of draft and a displacement of 17.5tonnes.
The sail plan area is greater than with the ACC Version 5.0 but without overlapping headsails, and as with the AC90 Rule contemplated in 2007, the boat has a bowsprit and the spinnaker area is limited only by sheeting constraints, not by measurement of dimensions. Given the lighter displacement, the AC33 will be more demanding to sail upwind, and will provide sparkling performance on the runs. Maximum beam is 4.8m, which will seem wide to people used to the appearance of the Version 5.0 yachts, where the last generation of yachts had a beam not much more than 3m in many cases.
ACC Version 5.0
33rd America's Cup Class AC33
mast heigh from sheerline
512 sq. m
unlimited [bring on the Whomper!]
214 sq. m typical
225 sq. m maximum
I from sheerline
Spinnaker tack from mast
13.65m (to end of sprit)
"We have had a very active 10 weeks pursuing this new AC33 Class Rule. The process was very similar to that of the initial AC90, and we deliberately used many of the clauses already developed for it 12 months ago. Because of our previous experience, this process seemed familiar and ran smoothly, in spite of the interruption caused by the Christmas holidays.
"The boat was originally suggested as one with overhangs, and girth restrictions, (a sort of mini J-class) but as different designers got into the act, it quickly evolved into a boat defined only by the length overall, weight, max beam and draft. This allows simple measurement processes for the hull itself, and each change seemed to make the boat go faster!
"As it turned out, the boat is slightly longer than the ACC Version 5.0 boats and several tonnes lighter, with similar sail area and righting moment. It promises to have similar upwind speed and to have sparkling downwind performance.
"We think it will be a boat which the America's Cup community will really enjoy; a worthy successor to all the wonderful boats that have gone before."
America's Cup Defender Alinghi's principal designer Rolf Vrolijk on the new class:
"For designers it is always more exciting to be involved in a new class or with a new type of boat than the highly evolved existing class where we can only focus on very detailed optimisation. It is quite challenging because it means starting from zero and this is a class like nothing we have seen before so if you do your homework right, you would be competitive. Some teams might be very competitive in some corners of the rule, so that will be very interesting."
John Cutler, technical director for the Challenger of Record, Desafío Español, on how the new class can level the playing field:
"It is a clean sheet of paper and therefore everybody has a good opportunity to come up with and design a fast boat or possibly the fastest boat, so we think that this is a good opportunity for all challengers and it will work well for Desafío Español."
Andy Claughton, design team coordinator for TeamOrigin, the British challenger, says:
"Creating the new AC33 Class Rule has been a terrific combined effort from Alinghi and the challengers. The vision of the boat was clearly established; it had to be fast, up to date and challenging to sail, whilst not being prohibitively expensive to build and campaign.
The rule development was done at a series of round the table meetings chaired by Tom Schnackenberg who brought all his experience to bear in guiding the writing of the rule text.
All the challengers were able to make their voice heard, and the experienced members of the group have worked towards a rule that has many fewer constraints than the old Version 5.0 boats."
Tom Schnackenberg, class rule and competition regulations consultant for ACM, on how the process worked and what to expect of the new class:
I Don't Need No Stinking Tactician
There's a familiar name at the helm of the first-ever Greek challenge for the America's Cup, New Zealander and former BMW Oracle Racing skipper Gavin Brady. But running down the crew list there appears to be something missing. There's no tactician on the list? Maybe Gavin couldn't find anyone he would listen to? Or maybe he recalled how little Chris Dickson let him do during the last Cup?
On the plus side, it is nice to see a solid number of Greek citizens onboard the boat. Let's see, Greece has never had an America's Cup challenge and they can find 12 sailors with Greek passports to put on their crew list. America on the other hand, has won the Cup 27 times and the team waving the Stars & Stripes has just one American onboard, and he happens to own the team. OK, I know, I'm beating a dead horse. But I thought it was worth mentioning.
The first day of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series started today. Brady started in fine fashion, getting into a collision with Alinghi and picking up a penalty point. But you can read all about it, including exclusive reports from Derby Anderson and veteran America's Cup scribe Angus Phillips, here
Auckland, NZ - Greek Challenge presented on Friday morning its crew line up for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. Without losing its Greek identity, the team crew has a strong kiwi flavor, with a total of 8 New Zealanders out of the 21 sailors that will be racing off Auckland's harbor for the next 2 weeks. Twelve Greeks will be defending their home colors and the 21-man roster in Auckland is completed with 1 South African.
Gavin Brady, 5-times America's Cup helmsman, will drive the boat in the team's maiden participation in a world-level regatta, against the world's top America's Cup teams. In fact, the first ever Greek team for the America's Cup will have to face none other than Alinghi, current defender and 2-time winner, in its first race.
The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series is the first step in a long-term effort to develop young sailors from Greece and create a stable platform that will lead to a competitive America's Cup team.
Greek Challenge Crew List
Bowman: Kevin BATTEN, NZL
Mid Bowman: Michail PATENIOTIS, GRE
Pavlos KAGIALIS, GRE (Reserve)
Mastman: Dimitrios BENAKIS, GRE
Pitman: Jeremy SCANTLEBURY, NZL
Pit Assistant: Anestis KARAYIANNIDIS, GRE
Port Grinder: Angelos BOUBOURAS, GRE
Starboard Grinder: Konstantinos CHANIOTIS, GRE
Upwind Trimmer: Carsten SCHON, NZL
Downwind Trimmer: Athanasios PACHOUMAS, GRE
Zachary HURST, NZL (Reserve)
Mid Grinder: Stu CLARKE, NZL
Mainsail Trimmer: Rodney KEENAN, NZL
Traveller: Dan SLATER, NZL
Panagiotis MANTIS, GRE (Reserve)
Helmsman: Gavin BRADY, NZL
Floater: Antonis BOUGIOURIS, GRE
Navigator: Marc LAGESSE, RSA
Aft Grinder / Skipper: Sotiris BUSEAS, GRE
Runner: Alexandros TAGAROPOULOS, GRE
Theodoros TSOULFAS, GRE (Reserve)
Jan. 16, 2009
TeamOrigin's New Motto: Just as Many Yanks as Oracle!
According to a press release from earlier today, Great Britain's TeamOrigin has pulled in Sailing World editor at large and America's Cup veteran Peter Isler for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series
TEAMORIGIN Skipper and Helm, Ben Ainslie, currently racing Etchells in Adelaide, Australia, commented: "Given the delays we have experienced in America's Cup matters during 2007 and 2008, it will be very refreshing to get out on the water and race again! It's good to see so many teams active and ready to compete, and such a great mix of existing and new teams together, which bodes well for the future of America's Cup racing. For TEAMORIGIN, it will be a chance to get our sailors together and race against some top teams which I am very much looking forward to."
TEAMORIGIN announced today their sailing team for the event as follows:
Matt Cornwell (GBR): Bowman
Julian Cressant (FRA): Mid Bow
George Skuodas (GBR):Mast
Barry McKay (NZL): Pit
Craig Monk (NZL): Grind 1
Pawel Bielecki (POL): Grind 2
Chris Brittle (GBR): Mid Grind
Robbie Naismith (NZL): Trim up
Christian Kamp (AUT): Trim down
Chris Salthouse (NZL): Main
Chris Draper (GBR): Traveller
Ben Ainslie (GBR): Helm & Skipper
Iain Percy (GBR): Tactician
Peter Isler (USA): Navigator
Andrew Simpson (GBR): Strategist
Mike Sanderson (NZL): Runner & Team Director
Anthony Nossiter (AUS): Runner/pit assist
Mike Mottl (AUS): Back-up trimmer
David Carr (GBR): Back-up grinder
Stevie Erickson (USA): Sailing Team Manager
Kelvin Harrap (NZL): Afterguard Coach
Actually the most interesting name on this list is Steve Erickson, the 1984 Star Olympic gold medalist and one of the original professional sailors. Erickson's Cup resume dates back to 1987 in Perth. He's spent the last few campaigns with Prada/Luna Rosa. If you're looking for someone who knows this world inside and out, few would rank higher on the list.
Jan. 13, 2009
BMW Oracle Racing to Sail With 1 American in LV Pacific Series
I fully understand that America's Cup sailing is a professional sport and the days of it being a friendly contest between nations is long past. But I'm still astounded that Russell Coutts couldn't find one American sailor-aside from the one paying the bills-to help fill out his crew for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series? Where's John Kostecki? How is our country supposed to develop America's Cup talent when the one team flying the Stars & Stripes won't let any Americans sail? Full crew list is below, from a BMW Oracle Racing press release.
Auckland, New Zealand, 14 January 2009 -- BMW ORACLE Racing today confirmed the team's race crew for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series starting here 30 January.
Three-time America's Cup winner and team CEO/Skipper Russell Coutts (NZL) will be at the helm and team owner Larry Ellison (USA) will be part of the afterguard. Hamish Pepper (NZL) will be tactician. The regatta features ten international teams from nine countries match racing on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour for a special trophy created by Louis Vuitton.
"We are all looking forward to racing in New Zealand again in what promises to be a very competitive regatta," Coutts said. "Many of the world's top big boat sailors will be will be here and it will be great to start the New Year with a regatta of this calibre."
The BMW ORACLE Racing crew includes: Alan Smith (NZL), bow; Alberto Barovier (ITA), mid-bow; Carl Williams (NZL), mast; Jamie Gale (NZL), pit; Andrew Taylor (NZL), grinder; Brian MacInnes (CAN), grinder; Joe Newton (AUS), upwind trim; Daniel Fong (NZL), downwind trim; Joe Spooner (NZL), main grinder; Noel Drennan (IRL), main trim; Cameron Dunn (NZL), traveler; Russell Coutts (NZL), helm; Hamish Pepper (NZL), tactician; Larry Ellison (USA), afterguard; Michele Ivaldi (ITA), navigator; Magnus Auguston (SWE), runner grind; Hamish Wilcox (NZL), runner; and Kazuhiko Sofuku (JPN), reserve foredeck.
Jan. 12, 2009
Crew Lists for Shosholoza and K-Challenge
From a Team Shosholoza press release
Meanwhile despite the icy cold spell in Europe, the Shosholoza team selected for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series has arrived at the South African base in Valencia, Spain, where they are holding an intensive 10 day sail training session aboard yacht Shosholoza RSA 83 before heading south to New Zealand.
"Our first day back on Shosholoza was a little tough because the sea was bouncy and choppy and very very cold! We left the dock in miserable seven degree gloom and rain but the guys were eager to get going and the weather has improved daily since then," said Shosholoza skipper and helmsman Paolo Cian.
The training session in Valencia will also include practice races against Damiani Italia, Luna Rossa and Team Alinghi who are also in Valencia for sail training. There will be a further week's practice racing for all the teams from 24 - 29th January in New Zealand.
Team Shosholoza crew list for Louis Vuitton Pacific Series
1 Pietro Mantovani: Bowman
2 Giuseppe Leonardi: Mid-Bow
3 Charles Nankin: Mast Man
4 Antar Vigna: Pit Man
5 Solomon Dipeere: Pit Ass.
6 Giuseppe Brizzi: Pit asist
7 Massimo Gherarducci: Back Up Pit Area
8 Massimo Paradiso: Starboard Grinder
9 Reinhardt Rauscher: Port Grinder
10 Salvatore Pavoni: Upwind Trimmer
11 Pierluigi De Felice: Downwind Trimmer
12 Camron Wills: Mid Grinder
13 Pierluigi Fornelli: Traveller
14 David Rae: Main Trimmer
15 Paolo Cian: Helmsman/Skipper
16 Tommaso Chieffi: Tactician
17 Cameron Appleton: Strategist
18 Francesco Mongelli: Navigator
19 Andrea Pavan: Aft Grinder
20 Moctar Fall: Back up Grinder
21 Vernon Neville: Back up grinder
From a K-Challenge press release
The K-Challenge's base in Valencia, Spain, is very busy these days! FRA93, K-Challenge's ACC boat, has been fully prepared to sail again, and the mast is now up since Saturday morning. The last details are being checked today for the launch of an intensive training session which will be held from the 13th to the 20th January.
The crew will then fly to Auckland, New Zealand, where it will arrive on January 23 to start the trainings with the other nine competitors, before racing against them during the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series from 1-14 February.
Crew list :
- Bow: Jean-Marie Dauris (United Internet Team Germany 2007, Le Défi Areva 2003)
- Mid-bow: Christophe André (Areva Challenge 2007, Equipe de France de Match Racing with Sebastien Col)
- Mast: Olivier Herledant (China Team 2007, Equipe de France de Match Racing)
- Pit: Gilles Favennec (Areva Challenge 2007, Equipe de France de Match Racing with Sebastien Col, Le Défi Areva 2003)
- Pit Assist: Bruno Jeanjean (America's Cup with the French teams in 1992 and 1995)
- Grinder: Federico Giovanelli (Desafio Español 2007, Prada Challenge 2003)
- Grinder: Carlo Castellano (Desafio Español 2007, Mascalzone Latino 2003, Il Moro de Venezia 1992)
- Trimmer / Spinnaker: Olivier Douillard (Areva Challenge 2007, Equipe de France de Match Racing with Sebastien Col, Le Défi Areva 2003)
- Trimmer / Jib: Christian Scherrer (+39 Challenge 2007, Alinghi 2003, Equipe de France de Match Racing with Sebastien Col)
- Grinder: Enrico de Maria (Alinghi 2007, 2003)
- Trimmer / Main Sail: Yann Gouniot (Alinghi 2007, France3 1995, Ville de Paris 1992, French Kiss 1987, France3 1983
- Traveller: Erwan Israel (Equipe de France de Match Racing with Sebastien Col)
- Helmsman: Sebastien Col (Areva Challenge 2007, Le Défi Areva 2003)
- Tactician: Rod Dawson (BMW Oracle Racing 2007, Oneworld 2003)
- Strategist: Fred Guilmin (Areva Challenge 2007, Equipe de France de Match Racing with Sebastien Col, Le Défi Areva 2003)
- Grinder : Virgilio Torrecilla (Desafio Español 2007, Bravo España 2000)
- Navigator : Philippe Mourniac (United Internet Team Germany 2007, Le Défi Areva 2003, Ville de Paris 1992)
Jan. 8, 2009
A press release from Keith Taylor outlined some of the key sailors that will be battling for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series championship in early February. With the 33rd America's Cup still in the hands of the New York State Court of Appeals, and most teams operating with skeleton crews, it's no surprise to see a few familiar faces wearing unfamiliar colors. To be honest, it only adds to the intrigue for this regatta, which will be the first America's Cup-class regatta to my knowledge sailed in boats that were specifically set up to be as even as possible. The racing could be outstanding.
Ten Teams Will Contest Louis Vuitton Pacific Series
AUCKLAND, NZ - The organizers of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series confirmed today that ten international teams from nine countries will match race on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour for a special trophy created by Louis Vuitton. Racing starts on 30th January and will continue for the next two weeks.
"We are delighted at the overwhelming response to our concept of a friendly series for top level international teams," said Yves Carcelle, Chairman of Louis Vuitton. "We started with the hope that six teams would race and to attract ten top entries at such short notice is a great achievement. This will be the most outstanding gathering of international sailing teams since the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland in 2003."
Crews will take turns in racing one-on-one in New Zealand's NZL 92 and NZL 84 and BMW Oracle Racing's USA 87 and USA 98. The two American boats were offloaded from their transport ship just before Christmas and a team of 30 Kiwi and American shore crew members worked throughout the holiday period to prepare the boats for racing. The work included changes to the rigs and sail plans to make each pair of boats as equal as possible.
There will be six races each day on the Waitemata off North Head, readily visible to spectators ashore and afloat. There will be a daily draw to decide which yacht competing teams will sail that day. Renowned international race officer Peter "Luigi" Reggio will fly to Auckland to head the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's race committee.
Representing New Zealand, America's Cup and Louis Vuitton Cup winner Dean Barker will skipper and take the helm for the home team.
Italy's Luna Rossa, winner of the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland and semi-finalist in Valencia, will have Virgin Island native Peter Holmberg as its skipper and helmsman.
Auckland's Russell Coutts, three-time America's Cup winner, has never lost a race between 1995 and 2003. Coutts, who has not raced at this level of competition since then, will return to skipper and steer for the USA's BMW Oracle Racing.
France will be represented by K-Challenge. The team's young skipper, Sébastien Col, was helmsman for the team in Valencia in 2007 and was runner-up Match Racing World Champion in 2008. He is currently ranked as the top match racer in the world.
From Great Britain, TEAMORIGIN is a new bid for America's Cup success by the Royal Thames Yacht Club. Ben Ainslie, Great Britain's most successful Olympic sailor, with three Gold medals and one Silver, is the skipper and helmsman. British Olympic Star gold medallist Iain Percy in China last year, is tactician.
For the China Team, British two-time World Match Racing Tour champion Ian Williams has signed on as skipper and will take the helm in Auckland. The team was a first-time Louis Vuitton Cup competitor in Valencia in 2007. It's home is the Qingdao International Yacht Club.
South Africa's Team Shosholoza also made its debut in Valencia in 2007 as the first-ever challenger from the African continent. Italy's Paolo Cian, who until recently was third in the ISAF Match Racing world rankings, is skipper and helmsman.
Damiani Italia is a new team from Circolo Canottieri Aniene and Club Canottieri Roggero di Lauria, two of Italy's oldest yacht clubs. Vasco Vascotto, runner-up in the 2008 TP52 worlds is skipper and tactician while Francesco Bruni is helmsman.
The most recently-formed team is the Greek Challenge, currently training on borrowed boats in Valencia. The team was started by courageous Greek and Canadian businessman Sotiris Buseas who is still finalizing negotiations with an international skipper and helmsman.
Auckland's Brad Butterworth is skipper and tactician for Alinghi, the race-winning team from Switzerland that is the two-time winner and current holder of the America's Cup. American Ed Baird will again take the helm for the Swiss.
The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series is being organised in association with the New Zealand Government, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Auckland City and Sky City Entertainment Group.
Unfortunately, my duties at the magazine will keep me stateside, but we'll have esteemed AC journo Angus Phillips onsite providing us with all the scoop. I can't wait to read what happens when Russell faces off against Brad, and Peter Holmberg tries to prove to Brad Butterworth that he, not Ed Baird, should've been behind the wheel of SUI-100 in the 32nd America's Cup. How will two-time ISAF world match racing champ Ian Williams fare in his first go on an ACC boat? And what about Ben Ainslie? He's been itching for a chance to show everyone his skills in this arena for many years. How we he handle the opportunity? We'll just have to wait and find out.
TeamOrigin Weighs In
Joining forces with a number of registered challenges, and Alinghi, the British America's Cup effort has filed an Amicus Brief supporting the defender's position that the Club Náutico Español de Vela is the rightful challenger of record. We're still working on a copy of the brief. But here's a quote from team CEO Sir Keith Mills.
Together with the Royal Thames Yacht Club, we have decided to issue this Amicus Brief today to make a very specific point that I feel has not yet been highlighted : notwithstanding the legal status and opinions about CNEV and the original Protocol document as issued back in 2007, the more significant point to note is that throughout the Royal Thames and TEAMORIGIN's involvement in the 33rd America's Cup, CNEV in its capacity as the Challengers accepted 'Challenger of Record' has collaborated and engaged with us and the other 19 Challenging Teams in the development of a new, fair and improved Protocol.
We have invested considerable time and effort, expertise and expense along with Alinghi as Defender, CNEV and the other Challengers in the development of the latest Protocol and I firmly believe this will lead to the most inclusive and successful America's Cup we've ever seen. No one wishes to see all this good work undone at this advanced stage, nor the significant costs and time spent thus far wasted.
Here's quote from the brief: " the Southern Cross Yacht Club was accepted by SDYC [San Diego Yacht Club] as a challenger for the 29th America's Cup. It was incorporated only after its challenge was accepted by SDYC. The Nippon Yacht Club was created solely to challenge for the 29th America's Cup. It was accepted by SDYC despite that it had no "tradition" and ceased to exist after participating in the 29th and 30th America's Cups. Similarly the Sun City Yacht Club from Western Australia was incorporated the day ebfore it challenged for the 1977 America's Cup."
So far, I like the TeamOrigin brief the best, it came in at a very svelte 8 pages. Who said the Brits were longwinded? Here's a link to the brief.
Finally, according to an e-mail from BMW Oracle Racing, the oral arguments in this case are set for Feb. 10. Gentleman, start your tape recorders! Oh wait, cancel that. No recording allowed in the courtroom. Well, we'll try to be there anyway, just to see what everyone has to say.
Jan. 6, 2009
More Shots Across the Bow
The New York State Court of Appeals just keeps racking up the friends. My wife is going to get jealous. Bill Koch and the San Diego YC have both filed amicus curiae briefs on behalf of the Golden Gate YC/BMW Oracle Racing, while Team Shosholoza and Team French Spirit have fired back at the brief filed by the New York YC with one of their own. Links for all are found below, a gold star to anyone with the free time and inexhaustible supply of caffeine needed to read through each one. Just in case that isn't enough enticement, I've pulled out a few key points from each.
Team French Spirit and Team Shosholoza on behalf of Société Nautique de Genève/Alinghi
To read the French Spirit/Shosholoza brief, click here.
Quote: "The NYYC's recent proposed amicus brief is replete with factual misstatements and distortions about the history of the Cup and about NYYC's prior conduct as trustee and challenger of record. The NYYC's tenure as trustee drew widespread criticism from America's Cup competitors."
Quote II: "In regard to its legal arguments, NYYC entirely regurgitates GGYC's previously articulated arguments including, for example, that Real Federation Español de Vela ("RFEV") was merely a "mutual consent" challenger in the 32nd America's Cup. Notable, such term is to be found nowhere in the Deed of Gift. It is rather an invention of GGYC's adopted by the NYYC. Tellingly, this purported distinction between a challenger of record and a so-called "mutual consent" challenger collapses of its own weight in the NYYC's brief."
San Diego YC, on behalf of the GGYC/BMW Oracle Racing
TO read the SDYC brief, click here.
Quote: "This Court's decision will determine whether the America's Cup yacht race will maintain its position as yachting's most prestigious Challenge race, or whether it will become a farce."
Quote II: "For a Challenging club to be an organized Yacht Club it must, like Mr. Schuyler's New York Yacht Club and Proposed Amicus San Diego Yacht Club, have a tradition, vessels, and a physical facility. One can imagine Mr. Schuyler's enthusiasm would be dampened if instead of being invited by Lord Wilton to stay at the Royal Yacht Squadrom's "club-house at Cowes" - a somewhat modest description of a sixteenth century castle - he and the New York contingent arrived at Intervenor-Defendant CNEV's non-existent facility and were issued a hammock for open air sleeping."
Apparently the SDYC still has a crimp in its collective neck from when Sir Michael Fay invited them to sleep in the back seat of the 1956 Ford that served as the clubhouse for the Mercury Bay Boating Club.
Bill Koch, 1992 America's Cup champion, on behalf of GGYC/BMW Oracle Racing.
To read Koch's brief, click here.
Quote: "Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests - we did. But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals " Oh, wait a minute. That's from Animal House. My apologies.
Quote II: "The object of SNG and its team founder, Ernesto Bertarelli, is to use CNEV to make money and circumvent the self-dealing charitable laws of New York. CNEV is not a yacht club. It has no vessels, no members, no physical facilities (other than the base facility of its racing team) and has never held an annual regatta. Prior to September of this year , CNEV had no website, no telephone number or contact information."
Jan. 5, 2009
My wife recently caught the Facebook bug. It's a great way, she says, to keep people updated on the progress of our first child. However, I think the prime source of her addition-and it's every bit that-is the rush she gets when adding a new "friend" to her "friend" list. I'm using quotes to differential this new brand of "friendship" from the time-honored process of determining via personal interaction whether you enjoy spending time with another person, have anything in common, etc. This "friendship" starts with an email inviting you to become a "friend" of some other person, and is consummated-or not, since turning someone down is just as easy and bloodless as saying yes-with a click of your mouse.
As a side note, for many years now I've been sure, much to my chagrin, that I wouldn't see the development of a time machine in my lifetime. Then lo and behold, before I hit 40, we get Facebook, which can transport you back to third grade with a few quick clicks.
"Hey Jimmy, would you like to be my friend?"
"Um, maybe. Does this mean I'll get invited to your birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese?"
"OK, it's a deal. Let's be friends."
The reason I bring up the subject of "friends" and "friending"-by the way, if Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg is so darn smart, why hasn't he invented a better word for the core activity of his cash cow-is that I was wondering whether the judges that comprise the New York State Court of Appeals get a similar rush of euphoria when a famous rich person or prestigious yacht club asks to be their friend.
As the America's Cup legal battle between Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi and Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing lurches toward another pivotal ruling, it seems that no one is content to sit on the sidelines. Every organization with a stake in the contest has filed Amicus Curiae [Friend of the Court] briefs on behalf of Alinghi or BMW Oracle Racing. One of the latest comes from none other than the granddaddy of America's Cup yacht clubs, the New York Yacht Club.
Personally, these briefs seems akin to the girlfriend of a used car salesman sidling up to offer her glowing opinion of her beau as you're weighing whether to buy the 1995 white-and-taupe Chrysler LeBaron or the 1997 Cadillac Eldorado with the merlot vinyl interior, or run screaming back home and shove all your hard-earned money back under the mattress. But maybe I'm wrong, maybe the justices are just tickled with all the advice they've been received. Not to mention the growing list of "friends."
For some time now, I've resisted starting an America's Cup blog. Partly this is because I find all this legal maneuvering to be quite tedious. Additionally, I was concerned with jumping in mid-race, so to speak; the backstory would take forever
But this document, the NYYC's amicus curiae brief, from the legal firm of Meene, Krool, Endangri, Partners at Law (aka Carter, Ledyard & Milburn LLP) is a great place to start. It's not a quick read, but it gives you a good synopsis of where the America's Cup legal morass stands.
It's a persuasive document in favor of overturning the surprising appellate court decision that reversed the initial decision by Justice Herman Cahn to invalidate the challenge by Club Náutico Español de Vela and put Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing team into the key Challenge of Record position. The fact that Ellison and Bertarelli can no longer agree whether ice is cold is at the center of this impasse.
Now before all the Alinghi supporters start accusing me of taking sides, let me just say this: 1. It is impossible to wade into this swamp without seeming like you're taking sides. I'm sure Alinghi's response will be equally as persuasive and I'll be sure to mention that when it comes out. I had to start somewhere. 2. I do get a chuckle out of the New York YC, they of the 132-year run as defender of the Auld Mug, screaming about Alinghi's purported attempted to rig the rules for the 33rd America's Cup in favor of the defense. 3. Don't shoot the messenger. My goal with this blog is merely to keep our readers up to date on the latest missives in this battle.
To that end, I'll close with the text of an open letter to Ernesto Bertarelli sent out by two-time America's Cup challenge Vincenzo Onorato of Mascalzone Latino. Ordinarily I'd wonder whether such a heated volley would do any good, whether it would be best to let cooler heads prevail. However, the cooler heads haven't done squat for going on 18 months now, so maybe it's time for both sides to get pissed off and start calling each other names. You know, like when someone said they would be your friend, but then also simultaneously became friends with your mortal enemy and starting hanging out with him during recess and shared with said enemy that secret, about your crush on that girl with the red hair and pigtails, which you'd only revealed in the first place to show your new friend that he was a true friend, and not some fake friend, which, apparently, he is. [However, he's now available on Facebook, if you'd like to "friend" him and relive the good old days at John F. Kennedy Elementary.] Onorato is among the more soft-spoken people I've met in sailing. If he's this mad, then maybe everyone else should be. (That doesn't mean I think he's right).
I have read the list of the last-minute registered teams to Your America's Cup.
You would forgive my insolence, but in such a very short time a number of teams without history or "art" have been promptly and immediately accredited to the highest world sailing competition. These teams "by chance" have filed an Amicus brief against GGYC - BMW Oracle Racing team. The above would be nearly-and I repeat nearly-marginal if you would have not taken more then an year to issue a confirmation letter of acceptance of our Club and Mascalzone Latino! You asked for the proof of the existence of Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia, which has more then a century of history and participations into two America's Cup.
The matter raises existential questions: which rooms near the sea I have visited in the last decades in Naples? Where I have had dinners hundreds of times thinking to be my yacht club? Should I now question whether my club exists? I' m proud of my Neapolitan origins. You Mr Bertarelli , you should be ashamed to offend my club and the city it represents only because we have supported Oracle arguments. You could make other amicus brief being signed by teams which from the America's Cup expect anything but a loyal competition; the so called "professional" of sailing which means those who wish to make money from sailing, have not always honoured our sport, too eager for money and not for the competition. Congratulation to Russell who has the courage to give up with you [sic], and to Ellison to defend our sport. A pray: [sic] for once please reply to me, and do not hide you behind your "rubber wall" which does not honour you .
P.S.: I kindly ask you to provide me with the proof that all the other teams registered have paid the registration fee as we have done!
Jan. 5, 2009
If you find yourself wondering who exactly are the 18 teams, other than Alinghi, that have signed up to challenge for the 33rd America's Cup, you're not alone. We haven't heard of half of them. But nonetheless, here they are. If Alinghi wins the appeal, these are likely to be the only teams allowed into the competition. The $68,000 registration fee may turn out to be a smart investment.