First a new boat, now the programme for the 33rd America's Cup is revealed, but there's still one small problem. Matthew Sheahan reports
The numbers alone suggest that the new America’s Cup class boats will be demanding to sail. Longer, bigger, setting half as much sail area again when compared to the previous AC boats and with heeling moments 70 percent greater as a result, few doubt that the new generation will be a handful for the crew and great to watch for spectators. Today, (Thursday 8 Nov), some of the technical brains behind the new class were assembled in Barcelona to paint a clearer picture of what is in store for the next Cup.
But there was another announcement to be made for the 33rd America’s Cup, the format of the event itself, the dates, the racing and the schedule, all of which confirm how much work has taken place to get the new show on the road. A show that, excluding the two Acts that are planned for 2008 and will take place in existing Version 5 Cup boats, starts on 2 May 2009 with two Round Robins. After that a series of semi finals, a repechage, a challenger selection series and a challenger sail-off makes for a complicated schedule involving more racing for more teams in a three month period than we’ve seen before in the America’s Cup.
The future for the Cup looks very exciting indeed, except for one small point – the court case.
“Depending on the result of the court case, everything we have told you about the next event could be put into question,’ admitted ACM’s new CEO Michel Hodara.
Essentially, the problem stems from the dispute about the eligibility of the current Spanish Challenger of Record that has taken both sides to the New York Supreme Court. There are three possible outcomes. Unfortunately, two of them could throw a spanner in the works for the plans as they have been laid out by ACM.
The three scenarios are; a) Judge Cahn finds in favour of Alinghi’s yacht club, a verdict that would see BMW Oracle’s yacht club lose its case. Current thinking is that in this case the American team could appeal, a move that is suggested could take around a year to settle. The Alinghi plan for the 33rd Americas Cup would then go on hold.
Scenario b) BMW Oracle’s yacht club wins its case which would allow it to force Alinghi’s club to renegotiate the Protocol. Presumably this wouldn’t be a quick matter, leaving the current Cup plans in limbo. The Alinghi plan for the 33rd Americas Cup would then go on hold.
Scenario c) The two sides come to an agreement before the Judge comes back with a ruling. This could allow the detailed plans for the next event and the new design to continue.
Until one of these scenarios is played out, we’re unlikely to be able to say with any certainty just how the, where and in what the next America’s Cup will be fought.