The Swiss defender reaches out in a conference call to the media. Peter Rusch was online for the call
With litigation pending, Alinghi and its yacht club, the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), is to hold talks with BMW Oracle Racing and the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC). Hamish Ross, the General Counsel for Alinghi, confirmed as much in a conference call with media Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ve said to them repeatedly that we’re happy to sit down with them, discuss their concerns with the Protocol, and try to answer their questions and resolve their queries as we have with the other five challengers, who have now entered,” Ross told the media.
“We’re having a discussion very shortly (Wednesday evening) about their Protocol concerns and there are no preconditions to that. And we would dearly like to be able to answer their concerns and for them to rejoin the America’s Cup community as a fully entered competitor.”
A resolution between the two sides, without needing to resort to the New York courts would be welcome news for the 33rd America’s Cup, which has been marred by mutual mudslinging between the two heavyweight Cup teams since the GGYC filed a legal complaint against SNG on July 20.
Today, Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth, reached out to his old pal Russell Coutts, recently appointed as CEO and skipper of BMW Oracle Racing.
“I would love to see the Golden Gate Yacht Club enter this competition,” Butterworth emphasised. “Russell sat out the last Cup. I think it was a tragedy?He’s one of the best guys in the game. He should be there and Larry (Ellison) should be running this thing. He’s one of the titans of US business. He should be in this 90-foot thing. I’m sure he’d love to be in it.
“If we could somehow convince them to stop this legal thing that is just an irritation and distraction and get on with the game of the America’s Cup, like we’ve had in the past, it would be perfect. I’d be the first one to try and convince them on that.”
Despite the more conciliatory tone today, the issue is still before the courts, with a preliminary decision on an injunction filed by GGYC on several issues to come as early as the day of the first hearing on that motion, September 10th. These injunctions are primarily procedural; the meat of the issue, regarding whether the Spanish Challenger of Record is entitled to be accepted as a challenger under the terms of the Deed of Gift, will be heard at a later date.
Reading the press release issued by Alinghi/SNG today,
alongside an updated (September 5th) background piece on the Golden Gate Yacht Club website doesn’t make one hopeful of an early resolution. On paper, both sides appear to be rather entrenched in their positions.
In the meantime, ACM and Alinghi are proceeding to prepare for the 33rd America’s Cup. Michel Hodara confirmed that he is taking over as CEO of AC Management, with Michel Bonnefous remaining as Chairman of the Board of ACM.
This week, the contract was finalised and signed with Valencia, which will be the host city of the 33rd edition. And Hodara also announced the United Internet Team Germany had signed on as the fifth challenger. He says ACM is in talks with up to a dozen other potential challengers.
Discussions on the new class rule for the America’s Cup, which will be based around a 90-foot boat, will begin this week among the teams already confirmed as challengers. These are expected to take about six weeks, with the final draft of the Rule to be published by the end of October.
“Our objective is to create a tight design box rule that will ensure the emphasis remains on sailing skill and exciting racing as we have recently seen during the 32nd America’s Cup. This together with large, visually impressive state-of-the-art boats will help us achieve our vision for the next Cup,” Butterworth said. “We are keen to return the America’s Cup to the romantic era of J-Class size yachts, albeit updated with the very latest technology.”
While this new class of boat, raced by the best sailors on the planet, is something all sailing fans would like to see, whether they get that opportunity may remain in the hands of the New York courts. Here’s hoping the call between Alinghi/SNG/ACM and BMW ORACLE Racing/GGYC goes long into the night and results in common sense prevailing. Then again, this is the America’s Cup; hold your breath at your own risk!