The big court judgement then nothing. What is going on?

The fact that there hasn’t been flurry of press releases, dates and documents since the appeal court ruling put the Golden Gate Yacht Club and BMW Oracle Racing back in the Challenger of Record driving seat, could be seen as a good thing for all the challenging teams that signed up to Alinghi’s America’s Cup plan.

With the CNEV’s role as Challenger of Record now scrubbed, everyone who signed up to the 33rd America’s Cup under that plan now goes back to ‘Go’.

Since the verdict last week, there’s been silence on the public front, but we do know that Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli have spoken, although it is not clear what has been said. Presumably if the conversation had been brief and adversarial there would have been some fall out. We’ve certainly had plenty of that during the last 18 months, so the current silence is almost eerie.

All of which makes me wonder whether the prospect of a multi-challenger event for the 33rd America’s Cup, hosted in Valencia is now on the cards.

A carefully worded press release from the GGYC, the first since the court verdict, might suggest that some sensible negotiation is taking place. The release reads:

‘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.’

‘Communications’ in plural, ‘successful conclusion’, ‘as quickly as possible’, what kind of Cup language is that?! These are words and expressions that have been sadly lacking over the last year, or perhaps I’m reading too much into this.

Either way, the irony of the whole squabble was that both teams said that a multi challenger event was what they wanted. It was the hurriedly drawn up, and to BMW Oracle’s eyes, one sided protocol for such an event that caused the argument.

A multi-challenger event is what the former challengers are desperate to see. Among the serious players, Team Origin and Emirates Team New Zealand to name just two, must have everything crossed at present in the hope that the two big guns can put pride to one side and let the game continue.

Running serious teams costs serious money and the prospect of another couple of years in the wilderness, especially in such fraught economic times, would surely kill off a number of the best organised, talent rich teams that will doubtless provide the stiff competition that we’d all like to see.

Such a delay would also push the next opportunity for a multi-challenger Cup perilously close to the Olympics. For Brit supporters, key players such as Ainslie and Percy would be forced to make an agonising decision between a nebulous Cup and competing in the Olympics on home soil. Both arguably once in a lifetime opportunities.

But for the multi-challenger option to take place, both sides need to put down their weapons, namely the monster multihulls that have been built. Alinghi and the SNG will no doubt need to accept that they have to re-negotiate the protocol, a move that might feel like an awkward step backwards.

But surely, only then will the prospects for the Cup move forwards.