Alinghi and BMW Oracle to talk, at last

Since the most recent ruling in the New York Court of Appeal there has been an eerie, tense silence. The court order that was supposed to draw a line under the long standing dispute between the current Cup holders’ yacht club Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG) and that of the wannabe Challengers, the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), has so far only revealed that the American yacht club is now the Challenger of Record. That was the easy bit – now the negotiations starts.

While publicly there were few statements of any real consequence, behind the scenes there was plenty of delicate posturing as both sides prepared for face to face discussions. At first we were told that a meeting would take place between the two sides, sometime this week, the precise date and the people involved were to be kept secret in an attempt to reduce the pressure on both sides.

Today the meeting is no longer secret and the picture as to who will be in the front line is clearer.

This Thursday (April 23) Brad Butterworth (Alinghi skipper), Lucien Masmejan (Alinghi General Counsel) will represent Alinghi and SNG Commodore Fred Meyer will represent the club.

For GGYC/BMW Oracle, Melinda Erkelens (GGYC Board member & BOR General Counsel), Richard Slater (BOR Racing Rules Advisor) and Manolo Ruiz de Elvira (BOR design team) will represent the American team.

The meeting will take place in Geneva.

During the course of the long and protracted series of court cases, patience has been tested on both sides, the reputation of the world’s oldest sporting trophy has been seriously undermined in the eyes of the pubic and the world’s financial health has taken a serious turn for the worse, just a few of the reasons why this time peace and agreement need to break out.

How soon we will know whether the next Cup will be a multi-challenger event or a head to head in monster multihulls is anybody’s guess. But at least this is step in the right direction.