STOP PRESS: Appeals Court Reverses Cup's Course

The Appeals Courts of the New York State Supreme Court has reinstated the Spanish Club Náutico Español de Vela as the challenger of the record and put the multihull match between BMW Oracle Racing and Alinghi into serious doubt.

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Th.martinez/alinghi

Today, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court threw a large depth charge into the already confused waters of the America's Cup. With most sailing fans anticipating that the court would simply rule on when and where the Deed of Gift match between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing would take place, the five-man appeal board instead overturned Justice Herman Cahn's decision from November 2007, which knocked the upstart Club Nautico Español de Vela from the challenger of record position and inserted BMW Oracle Racing into that spot.

"Accordingly, the orders of the Supreme Court, New York County (Herman Cahn, J.), entered March 18, 2008 and May 13, 2008, which, inter alia, declared CNEV's challenge invalid and GGYC the Challenger of Record under the Deed of Gift, should be reversed, on the law, with costs, CNEV declared the Challenger of Record, and, in keeping with the Deed of Gift's requirement that the defender be given at least 10 months' written notice to prepare for the challenge, the 10-month notice period should be tolled until service of a copy of this order."

The decision wasn't unanimous, with two of the five judges on the panel dissenting. There is sure to be some triumphant cries of victory following from Alinghi and some very disappointed words from BMW Oracle Racing. As for what this does to the Cup contest, who knows? Both Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing are well along with the builds of their 90-foot multihulls and with the legal battles seemingly in the past many sailors were starting to warm to the spectacle of a race between two such magnificent craft. That seems unlikely to happen given the animosity that has built up between the two teams. And what of the CNEV? Does it even exist anymore?

More to come on this topic soon.

To see the full decision, click here.

Reaction from BMW Oracle Racing and the Golden Gate YC:

Valencia, Spain, 29 July 2008: The Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) said today it will carefully consider the implications of today's ruling by the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court before deciding on its next step.

In a 3-2 decision, the Court ruled in favor of the Club Nautico Español de Vela (CNEV) as the challenger of record following a previous New York State Supreme Court decision last November that found CNEV's challenge was invalid.

"We are surprised and disappointed by this ruling. We will now be taking legal advice and considering the next step," Tom Ehman, the club's spokesman, said.

Reaction from Alinghi:

The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court today ruled in favour of the Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG) declaring Club Nautico Español de Vela (CNEV) the rightful Challenger of Record for the 33rd America's Cup and denying the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) this status.

Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi president, comments: "We are delighted with this result; we can now continue with our vision of a multi-challenger event. The court's decision validates our actions and enables us to put the America's Cup back on the water."

Lucien Masmejan, SNG lead counsel, comments: "After a year of litigation interference by the GGYC, we are extremely pleased that the Appellate Division has found its challenges to SNG's conduct of the 33rd America's Cup baseless. The GGYC's actions have wasted a lot of time, effort and resources over the past year and we hope that it does not appeal. We must now evaluate whether adjustments have to be made due to the time consumed by its improper litigation initiatives."