Taking it Seriously...

After Friday's post I got another Kiwi tip-off about an interesting interview with Michel Hodara, the CEO of America's Cup Management (ACM), on BYM News. And he says ACM are taking the GGYC court challenge seriously. This is what Hodara had to say about the court action:

'Yes, Golden Gate omitted a very important date from the Media Backgrounder that was issued a few days ago and has created a wrong impression of what happened on August 22nd. The date it failed to mention, under the heading "2007 Timeline" was August 17.

'Although the GGYC filed suit in the Supreme Court for the State of New York, on July 20, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) was not served with the papers until August 17. The response to those papers was scheduled to be answered by mid-September and SNG was working on responding by then. However, just 5 days later, GGYC went into court and asked for the time scale to be accelerated. They want it accelerated for the original suit and they also want to know from SNG the racing rules and the location for the multihull challenge they claim for.

'All that happened in court, on August 22, was that the court set a date for hearing whether there is reason to accelerate things. SNG has to reply by September 5 and the hearing will be on September 10. This was not a victory for GGYC, as the impression has been given. Nothing was decided, the court has not taken any position whatsoever, it has just set a date for a hearing and nobody knows what will happen on the date. The court may agree to the request to accelerate, or it may not.'

So, that sets me straight about whether or not ACM are up for this...

I'd urge you to read the whole interview as this is a more thoughtful and temperate response to the current circumstances than the statement ACM put out in response to the court order - which is a pity. In my very first blog on the new Protocol for the 33rd Cup I was willing to give ACM the benefit of the doubt over what appeared to be a very one-sided document. Since then, public opinion seems to have largely hardened against ACM, and backed the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC)/Oracle challenge to the Protocol. Not least because ACM have refused to recognise that people have legitimate concerns with the document, or even explain their reasons for the controversial clauses - perhaps Mr Hodara should be given the stage more often. Now, if he could just come up with a conciliatory tone and a willingness to negotiate, we might be getting somewhere.

Just one point about the rest of the interview - Hodara talks about the verticality of football as being an aspiration for the America's Cup. Meaning that there are people interested in football from all stratas of society. But football's verticality exists because every single one of the six billion or so punters on this planet has the opportunity to kick a football/tennis ball/tin can around a pitch/street/beach and knows what it means and what it takes to good, bad or indifferent at it.

The same cannot be said of sailing - and that truth will not be changed by bringing mainstream sponsors into the America's Cup, it will be changed by giving kids everywhere and in all walks of life a chance to experience sailing. And I don't see too many people in the Cup doing much about fixing that...


Mark Chisnell ©