Alinghi says it will forfeit Cup if sails found to be illegal. Matthew Sheahan reports
When asked last week whether the team would be able to compete in the Cup if their sails were deemed illegal by the New York court following BMW Oracle’s objection, the answer appeared to be ‘No’.
Yet, somehow the response didn’t seem to convince everyone. Would the Cup holders really be prepared to walk away from sports oldest international trophy? Would they really kick eight years of hard work into touch? Had they actually built a set of Deed compliant sails just in case?
It appears that the answer is ‘yes’ following a statement from Société Nautique de Genève vice-commodore, Fred Meyer.
“If BMW Oracle succeeds in disqualifying the Defender’s sails then there will be no Match, Russell Coutts will have won the America’s Cup for Larry Ellison without sailing,” he said.
For those that missed this part of the saga, BMW Oracle and its yacht club the GGYC, have questioned whether Alinghi’s North 3DL sails satisfy the conditions as set out in the Deed of Gift which states that:
‘….a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the Challenging Club belongs, against any one yacht or vessel constructed in the country of the Club holding the Cup.’
Are the sails part of the yacht or not? Alinghi and SNG believe that they are not and include (among other various reasonings) that the panels were assembled in Switzerland and therefore ‘built in Switzerland’, BMW Oracle and GGYC disagree.
Given that this Deed of Gift interpretation that cannot be resolved between the two, the issue goes to court, as prescribed by the Deed of Gift itself.
GGYC spokesman Tom Ehman said in a statement following that of the SNG’s;
“This is not a complex issue to resolve. It rests on three simple
propositions: (1) the Deed of Gift requires that the defender’s “yacht or vessel” be constructed in the defender’s country, (2) sails are part of a yacht or vessel, and (3) SNG has admitted that its sails were custom- made in pieces in Nevada. All that is required is an application of a plain and unambiguous provision of the Deed of Gift to admitted facts.”
On the face of it this is just another in a long list of issues that the teams disagree over, yet this one could turn out to provide the clearest indication that what happens on the water won’t necessarily decide who wins the Cup.
Although the documents from both sides are now with the Courts, it is considered unlikely that there will be a ruling before the racing kicks off on Feb 8 (weather permitting) which poses a question as to the motive behind the SNG statement.
If Alinghi were to win, yet their sails were later found to be illegal by the New York Courts, would the SNG hand over the Cup then?
The only positive news appears to be that for those who can’t make it to Valencia to see what promises to be an outstanding, albeit brief, series races between two extraordinary boats, you can probably follow the defining moments of the 33rd America’s Cup on line, in working hours – in the courts.
YW PREVIEW SPECIAL
Check out our previews to the Cup as published in the January and February 2010 issues of Yachting World now available in pdf format and available free online.
YW VIDEO CLIPS
See BMW Oracle hit 25 knots in 6-8 knots of wind
Official 33rd America’s Cup Site
AERIAL VIEW OF THE HARBOUR
Aerial view of Darsena and commercial harbours
HOW TO GET TO AMERICA’S CUP VENUE
To Valencia by Air:
The easiest way is to fly to Valencia and then take a taxi. Approx cost of taxi to harbour, €20
See www.valenciaport.com for more information
Unfortunately, at this time of year there are fewer direct flights to Valencia than during the summer season. Therefore an alternative route is to fly to Alicante and either take the train or hire a car. Driving takes approx 2 hours and car rental is cheap.
To harbour from Valencia train station:
A taxi from the train station is about a 20-minute ride.
Heading to Valencia on the A7 toll motorway, connect to the V-15 or V-30 to the port, which is signposted.