Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Is it just me or do I hear a roaring silence from BMW Oracle re. the timing of a Deed of Gift match?

Oops, cancel the question. The ink was still dripping from the first version of our little blog when the phone rang and it was BMW Oracle Racing's mistress of information, Jane Eagleson, saying, "Far be it from us to leave you listening to a roaring silence."


My intent in posing the question was to point out a gap that you could drive a real big truck through sideways, a gap that appeared in the initial public statements issued by the rival teams:

Alinghi, proud defender of the America's Cup, but twice a loser in court, released a statement asserting July 2009 as a date for a Deed of Gift match.

BMW Oracle Racing, twice a winner in the same court, made no mention of a date. Silence on that.

But there's a reason.

They have long intended, and still intend, to race in 2008.

So get ready for the next round, merde-fight fans. This much happened in the first few minutes after the court ruling went public.

Conventional wisdom (which can be wrong, but I subscribe) has it that Alinghi's actions these recent months have been aimed at delaying the inevitable Deed of Gift match, while they play catch-up on design. Bertarelli was so confident of winning in court the first time around that he did not begin work on a multihull defender until the rug was swept from under his feet. His own people have said that, and who am I to doubt them? The American camp, meanwhile, was cranking great guns.

Today --
The defender issued a statement quoting team boss Ernesto Bertarelli: "Let's settle this on the water." Alinghi lead counsel Lucien Masmejan was quoted as setting July, 2009 for a best-of-three match.

However --
Among other matters, the Cup's Deed of Gift covers situations in which the parties cannot mutually agree to terms, and it addresses the timing of a disputed match.

Thus my email to Jane Eagleson, asking the question that leads this writing. And about two minutes later, in email time, comes:

"you would have to ask Alinghi – where do they get 2009 from?? This is nowhere in the court papers – we want to go as soon as possible"

My point exactly.

Interviewed on Radiosport New Zealand, Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth had comments that laid out the next arena of conflict:

"It [the ruling] is pretty much what we expected to happen."

"Next year we're happy to meet them in a multihull."

"The strategy of BMW all along has been to race this year."

"There is no way we could do it in that time frame, and even when they went to court last year [if we had started then] it would have been a big push. They could have a regatta in July, but it'll be ridiculous."

"We're thinking the clock stopped when we went to court."

The DoG stipulates 10 months from the date of challenge, and the various back-and-forths since BOR filed its DoG challenge have us racing in 2008. I heard Butterworth talking July, 2008, but I believe he had the month wrong. I heard BMW Oracle talking October.

So can Alinghi persuade (whom?) that the clock stopped? Will we be going back to court to ask Dad to set a date?

I think so.

ee cummings asks for me . . .

how do you like your blueyed boy
Mr. Death

And then (we're still on the phone, remember) Jane hands the phone to Tom Ehman, Director of External Affairs for BMW Oracle, and I express my wonderment. He says, "When the judge ruled in our favor in November, the regatta date was October 2008. There is no basis for a match in July, '09."

And what of a way to reconcile this matter of the dates? Do we go back to court?

"As far as we're concerned, October 2008 is the date."

Yep, I'm working on my Spanish.

"It may not be Valencia, you know. The defender still has some rights in that regard."

Oh. Yeah.

● ● ●

OK, for the masochists among you, the meat and potatoes:

To read the court document, click here

And we have this from Alinghi:

(New York, 18 March 2008) In response to New York Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn’s order today designating Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) as America’s Cup Challenger of Record replacing Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV), lead counsel for the defending yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), Lucien Masmejan, issued the following statement:

“Following today’s court order, Larry Ellison has eliminated the competition and gained access to the America’s Cup Match, a feat BMW Oracle Racing has never been able to achieve on the water. While we are disappointed with the outcome of this court order and believe that the matter of GGYC’s certificate of challenge wasn’t properly addressed, we have decided not to appeal the decision and we look forward to getting the fight back on the water and meeting BMW Oracle Racing on the start line of a Deed of Gift Match in July 2009,” Masmejan said.

Should Alinghi win the Deed of Gift Match, the Defender is committed to getting the America’s Cup back on track for a world class multi-challenge event in 2011 in Valencia, Spain. “The challengers can be assured that the 34th America’s Cup will be run with the same vision and commitment for a premiere multi-challenge sailing event that they supported in Valencia in 2007,” Masmejan concluded.

And this from BMW Oracle Racing:

Court Order Confirms GGYC America’s Cup Challenge

Valencia, Spain, March 18, 2008: Justice Herman Cahn of the New York State Supreme Court today issued an order confirming the validity of Golden Gate Yacht Club’s challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup and rejected a late-stage bid by the defender to re-argue the court’s earlier ruling in GGYC’s favor.

“We are very pleased with this decision. The Court has ruled that our challenge complied fully with the Cup’s Deed of Gift, and we are now keen to keep moving forward towards the next regatta,” Tom Ehman, the club’s spokesman said.

In its order today the Court reconfirmed its November 27 decision that GGYC was the valid challenger for the Cup.

The defender, Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), had filed a motion to re-argue that decision based on a new claim that the American club’s challenge was invalid under the Deed, but this was rejected by the court.

A Deed of Gift match is being held as the defender made it clear it did not wish to take up GGYC’s offers made before and after the court’s ruling in November of a conventional regatta with rules agreed by mutual consent and involving all teams.