Tuesday, 23 October 2007

No Decision

Anyone still holding their breath can stop now… there was no decision in the New York State Supreme Court of Justice Cahn on the case that Oracle and the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), have brought case against Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) and Alinghi. The hope is that a decision will be handed down in days or weeks rather than months, and you can read Cory Friedman’s excellent coverage for the online Scuttlebutt magazine right here.

Bob Fisher was in attendance for Sail-World, and his report is here, with John Rousmaniere also describing events for Scuttlebutt. While both GGYC and SNG delivered short press releases, expressing their satisfaction with events to date – one of them is misguided in that belief…

GGYC have also posted the original July letter from seven previous Cup challengers, protesting the Protocol. It makes interesting reading. And the mighty Valencia Sailing blogspot has come up with TVNZ's report on the court case, which includes footage from the court room of all the players - so if you want to put faces to names, that's the link to click on. The same site also has an interview with Hamish Ross, Alinghi's General Counsel.

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Mark Chisnell ©

Monday, 22 October 2007

D-Day

Today's the day when the New York State Suprememe Court will hear Oracle and the Golden Gate Yacht Club's (GGYC) case against Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) and Alinghi. Ahead of the hearing in the court of Justice Cahn, there’s been plenty of tit-for-tat filing and press release issuing – the ever reliable Cory Friendman summarises the latest court papers for Scuttlebutt.

The latest press release from the GGYC is in the normal place (click on the title 'GGYC Press Release October 20, 2007' and it opens a Word file). While you can read the latest from SNG on their website.

There is, apparently, a meeting this morning in New York ahead of the court appearance, but having read all that, all I can say is thank god for courts and judges...

Meantime, in case you missed it, Paul Cayard has signed with Desafío Español, the current Challenger of Record, as their Sports Director. Cayard joined the team for a few months ahead of the last Cup, and that role is now to be reprised for an entire Cup cycle. There was a press conference on the appointment in Valencia, which was reported in the Valencia Sailing blogspot.

And finally, another Italian syndicate has broken cover, Eolia has submitted 'pre-registration' to America's Cup Management (ACM) ahead of getting enough funding to actually enter. The team intends to be as Italian as possible, with that language spoken on board the race boat, and they’d like to get hold of a Luna Rossa boat for training. According to BYM News the 50 million Euro budget will come from a Milan company, a bank and a number of businessmen in the north, along with 10 million Euros from Sicily - and Francisco De Angelis has been connected with the team.

So, now you can all go and hold your breath until end of play in the New York courts…

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Mark Chisnell ©

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Catching up...

Apologies for absence, but the sailing in St Tropez took its toll, and then there was a big pile of work to catch up on when I got back, and well… a Happy Monday’s gig to go to… And I'm off to the Frankfurt Book Fair at the weekend, so this blitz through a couple of weeks worth of news isn't really going to do it justice. Still, there's some great writing if you follow the links...

So, back at the ranch house, there’s been plenty going on in the Cup world, as both the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) and Sociétè Nautique de Genévè (SNG) file their papers with the New York courts ahead of the hearings on the 22nd October.

If you want to read all the original documents, then GGYC have been posting court papers on their website, while SNG have put up some of the early stuff on Alinghi's website. The Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia (RYCCS), the challenging club of Mascalzone Latino, have also weighed into the legal action with what’s apparently called an amicus curiae brief to the New York Court – you can read a summary of their filing here. But the definitive independent coverage of this stuff is Cory Freidman’s work for Scuttlebutt – you can read his assessment of the paperwork issued to date right here – but if I were to cut to the chase, I’d say that SNG are in trouble.

Cory Friedman also met Ernesto Bertarelli as part of a PR sweep through the States by the head of Alinghi. Friedman had some interesting things to say about the meeting - which can probably be summed up by saying that Bertarelli still doesn’t get it (and if you want to know what he doesn't get, then you can read this story by Richard Gladwell at Sail-World). When the PR sweep reached the West Coast of the US, Kimball Livingston was one of the men ushered into Ernesto’s presence, and he’s written in his usual lively manner about the occasion - in two parts. Elsewhere in the same PR push, Marian Martin of BYM News got to talk to Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth - and this is the best interview Brad's given on the whole thing.

Meanwhile, I can personally confirm that the swirl of dockside rumour was alive and kicking in St Tropez, reflected online at the Valencia Sailing blogspot, the latest of which is right here. So have Ellison and Bertarelli cut a deal? They know, and we don’t. But if I was to put money on it (and why-oh-why did I not have a few quid on England and France at the weekend?), I’d say not…

Given the closeness of the court date, the most surprising event of the past couple of weeks was the announcement from ACM on the 3rd October that they were reconsidering the feasibility of holding the Cup in Valencia in 2009, ‘as a consequence of the uncertainty and the delays arising from the Golden Gate Yacht Club Law suit in New York’.

But why make this announcement less than three weeks before the court date that will finally provide some certainty? It was bound to spook the herd - particularly the five teams that have already challenged and their prospective sponsors. And coming at such an odd time, you have to wonder about ACM’s motives in making the announcement. In an AP story, Paul Logothetis quoted ACM chief executive Michel Hodara as saying that the lawsuit was the problem. ‘Nothing has changed. We are just saying that now we find ourselves in a situation where time is the problem. We have reached a stage and we have to face the reality of the situation.’ So, just a reality check, or something else?

A couple of the teams responded to this, Grant Dalton was quoted in the New Zealand Herald as saying that they will continue to prepare for a 2009 event. While Jochen Schümann, in charge of Team Germany commented, ‘The situation of a possible postponement for the planned 33rd America’s Cup in 2009 would harm the sport and its image worldwide. We are supporting all attempts of an amicable arrangement.’

Indeed. There was a 12 Metre World Championship held in Lulea, Sweden, in 1988 for what was then still the America's Cup Class, with ten teams lining the dock. By the summer of 1992 in San Diego - when the dust had settled on the catamaran challenge, the court case and the new boat rule - one each of the Swedish and Japanese teams, along with the British, Danish and German challengers had all fallen by the wayside. Lessons from history 101 - there's every reason to believe the court won't sit on its hands in judgement this time, as it did in that last debacle, but the risks are still there...

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Mark Chisnell ©