Brad Butterworth paints a grim picture and Team Origin scales down its operation. Matthew Sheahan reports
As plans for the next America’s Cup are dragged along like an unwilling toddler, even the most optimistic of players are finding it increasingly difficult to paint a positive picture as to how the next event may pan out.
Among the latest gossip to draw a collective sigh from all those who’d like to see some dates inked into the calendar, is talk that in a recent conference call between the new lawyers for the Societe Nautique Geneve, (the previous lawyers are alleged to have been relieved of further duties following the collapse of their defence in the New York courts), the lawyers for the Golden Gate Yacht Club and Justice Cahn of the New York Supreme court, there will be another hearing on January 14 2008.
Although Judge Cahn delivered his verdict, in which he declared that the Spanish yacht club was invalid, he has not yet issued the written settlement order. While each side has been waiting for this apparent rubber stamp, lawyers for the SNG are believed to have claimed that while they accepted the decision on the Spanish yacht club, the judge should not have been able to declare the Golden Gate Yacht Club as a valid Challenger of Record.
The judge is understood to have accepted this and has called for another hearing on Jan 14.
The continued strangling of the Cup has now seen two of its major players announce that their plans are now on ice. First the Spanish team announced redundancies, now the British team has said it will ‘modify its plans’ for the next America’s Cup
“Our assessment now is that a 2009 America’s Cup Match that TeamOrigin could compete in is extremely unlikely and that 2011 is now the most likely timing for the next America’s Cup with multiple challengers,” explained Team Principal Sir Keith Mills.
Certain members of the team have less of a rush on their hands now in terms of getting racing yachts ready for a competition in Valencia originally scheduled for 18 months from now.
“Up until today the design team, run by Juan Kouyoumdjian, Andy Claughton and Mickey Ickert, had been working flat out to design the first of the team’s AC-90 yachts. TeamOrigin’s shore crew and boat builders had been making all arrangements to build this boat in time for a June 2008 launch in Valencia. We now see a longer period ahead of us before a race-ready yacht is required and so have taken this opportunity to change our approach. To keep these original plans in place now would be wasteful and as a result TeamOrigin is lowering its current level of activity and re-focusing on planning for a 2011 event. The team is however always prepared for any eventuality and it has the flexibility to quickly escalate the programme and plans in case the America’s Cup situation changes again,” said Team Director Mike Sanderson.
“I remain totally committed to the America’s Cup and to maintaining the competitive advantage that TeamOrigin has built,” continued Sir Keith. “But I am extremely frustrated and disappointed about the current state of affairs. What we need is clarity and I urge the Defender and Challenger of Record to reach an agreement that provides the prospective challengers like TeamOrigin with the certainty they need to plan future campaigns.”
“My principal goal now is to keep TeamOrigin together so as to be able to compete for the America’s Cup at some time in the future. Without any certainty today as to when, where and how that will be I am reluctantly forced to slow things down and stand the team down from full operational mode,” concluded Sir Keith.