The legal battle between the Cup billionaires has started, while the rest of the Cup action moves on apace. Matthew Sheahan reports

 On Monday 10 September the Cup took its first step back into court as the battle over the new Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup got underway.

After the hearing, in which the court set October 22 as the date for the dispute to be heard, both sides were claiming that they were happy with the situation.

“We are very pleased with this decision, as we are keen to see this issue properly resolved with a minimum of further delay,” Tom Ehman, Head of External Affairs for GGYC’s team, BMW Oracle Racing, said.

A statement from the Alinghi camp read, ‘The Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) is pleased to announce that the Judge did not grant the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (GGYC) application for an injunction, and instead ordered the parties to submit written legal arguments designed to dispose of the case in the shortest possible time.’

The statement went on to say that, ‘Importantly, this is the second successful legal outcome in only a matter of days, following the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel’s ruling over the weekend that declared legitimate the Challenger of Record, and that the 33rd Protocol complies with the Deed of Gift.’

But then perhaps they would wouldn’t they? The Arbitration panel was set up by Alinghi and while no one is suggesting that the outcome was biased, it’s surely difficult to claim complete independence.

No doubt well aware of the potential damage that court proceedings could do to the event, Ehman was keen to reiterate that the team would prefer to negotiate, a standpoint it has maintained since the issue flared up shortly after the end of the 32nd America’s Cup this summer.

“During the hearing, the court suggested that the parties engage in mediation to resolve all disputes. This is a course that we continue to support,” Ehman said.

“Our strong preference remains to negotiate a solution. If this is not possible, today’s decision provides for swift resolution through the courts.”

He went on to say that the team strongly favours an America’s Cup regatta like the last one sailing in monohulls, and had supported seeking a quick legal resolution so that all participants could know the outcome of the case as soon as possible.

So, one day down and aside from having a date set for a hearing, there are no further clues as to whether the event will happen under the Alinghi plan in the Spring of 2009 or under the BMW Oracle plan for some time next year.

This in itself presents further problems for teams that are trying to make plans for the 33rd America’s Cup, but it hasn’t stopped the rapid pace of developments within the Cup circus.

Among the latest news outside that of the court proceedings:

Tom Schnackenburg has been appointed as the independent technical consultant to oversee the development of the new rule, although he will be hired after the new rule has been created by Alinghi.

Bruce Farr has signed with the Spanish Team and will provide 60 percent of the team’s total design resources.

The first meeting between the five current Challengers and the Defender will take place this Saturday (15 Sept).

James Spithill has joined BMW Oracle Racing.

Having decided to sit the 33rd America’s Cup out, Luna Rossa boss Patrizio Bertelli is said to be looking at taking part in the 34th America’s Cup.

The German AC team is back for the next Cup with ex-Alinghi team member Jochen Schuemann rumoured to be joining the team.

For Brit supporters, the biggest news will come this Friday when Team Origin unveils it’s new team and displays it’s first major hardware purchase, the re-branded ex Alinghi version 5 Cup boat, now GBR-75.

We will be bringing news of this direct from the Southampton Boat Show launch.