An America's Cup in 2011 in the new AC33 class, BMW Oracle and GGYC declare their interest. Matthew Sheahan reports

Three days before the meeting in Geneva, the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) has declared how it would like to see the 33rd America’s Cup played out.

In a letter to his opposite at the Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), GGYC Commodore Marcus Young outlined two proposals by the American club.

The first is for, ‘a multi challenger regatta under a Protocol and rules (racing, technical and commercial) agreed by mutual consent, at Valencia in 2011, in your new “AC33” Class.’
This event would be based on, ‘AC32 rules and format with cost cutting measures’, along with a ‘Board of ACM agreed by mutual consent.’

The alternative proposal states, ‘a traditional format of a separate Challenger Selection Series organized at your venue by Louis Vuitton (if they agree to this role); ie., the Challengers will provide the winner of the LV Cup, and the Challengers will re-assume the financial and organizational responsibilities for this series.’

The letter ends by requesting a deadline for a written response to these proposals within a week of the Geneva meeting.

On the face of it a multi challenger event appears to be on both parties minds. Right from the start of the process, just days after winning the Cup in 2007, Alinghi and SNG declared that in co-operation with the then Challenger of Record, the next America’s Cup would be a multi challenger event.

Although BMW Oracle has built and sailed its monster trimaran in preparation for a Deed of Gift match, a best if three head to head with Alinghi, it’s club the GGYC has also repeatedly said that it’s preferred option would be for a multi challenger event.

So where’s the problem?

Mainly in the rules that govern the match.

Broadly speaking Alinghi wants to change the way that the last event was run, it claims the changes aren’t that major. But BMW Oracle thinks otherwise and wants to use the rules that were used to run the last America’s Cup. This letter confirms that little has changed here and this could present one of the main stumbling blocks.

When it comes to the design of the boat, the former Challengers that helped develop the new rule will no doubt be relieved to see that the new AC33 boat is the weapon of choice. Going back to the drawing board for a new design would surely provide a further setback for any new Cup proposal. But in doing this, BMW Oracle has made a small time concession as it’s designers were not part of the rule development and will be playing catch up.

While an America’s Cup match in 2011 in Valencia is a far more feasible timescale when it comes to designing, building and testing a new boat, to say nothing of developing the event itself, this is just one year before the Olympics and will no doubt present some tricky decisions for some Challenger team members. In addition, another year makes for another expensive wage bill. How long can some of the Challengers hold on?

The alternative option, a Challenger run Challenger selection series where the financial and organisational responsibilities lie with that body, would appear to be a complete return to the style of event last seen in Auckland in 2002/3 and where the Defender is not permitted to sail against the Challengers.

With a proposal for one boat campaigns, (part of the cost cutting measures referred to), currently on the cards, it would seem unlikely that the SNG and Alingni would be happy to agree to sit on the sidelines and wait for the ultimate Challenger to appear for the Cup match itself.

And that’s before considering the implications of Alinghi handing over the ‘organizational responsibilities’ for a series that it developed, built and controlled in the last event.

In essence, while the two teams appear to be so close in some ways, there’s most likely still a wide river to cross before they can meet.