The Fur Flies

Back from the surf trip after a double-overhead session at Harlyn Bay yesterday...

And the fall-out continues to land in the America’s Cup, following the decision by Justice Cahn of the New York Supreme Court to remove Club Nautico Espanol de Vela (CNEV) as Challenger of Record, and replace them with the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) and Oracle Racing.

Next out of the blocks was Desafio Espanol, with a statement posted on the Valencia Sailing blogspot saying that they challenged through CNEV in good faith, having consulted with renowned legal advisers, and only ever wanted the best for the sport of sailing, Valencia and Spain… yada, yada, yada. Sigh.

Bruno Troublé broke the silence that he has maintained since Louis Vuitton pulled out of their quarter century of America’s Cup sponsorship. He penned a piece for Scuttlebutt, which pretty much blasted everything to do with the 33rd iteration that America’s Cup Management (ACM) had been trying to organize…

‘I am shocked to see the defender sailing WITH the challengers (no more of this great mystery at the start of the first final race) and at ACM naming the judges, umpires, and committees with no reference to ISAF...

'I am furious to see the 90-foot box rule. Anyone involved in the America’s Cup knows that the best match racing boats do NOT accelerate from 10 to 20 knots when luffing 10 degrees downwind. They are STUCK in the water the same way the 12s and the IACC were. Do not confuse these fast-accelerating sleds with the impressive looking J’s boats, as the defender has stated.’

Over at Team New Zealand, Grant Dalton reckoned the court judgement was ‘the outcome he was waiting for…’ according to an article in the New Zealand Herald. Tim Jeffrey then broke a story in the Daily Telegraph that Dalton and Team New Zealand had demanded compensation from Alinghi and Ernesto Bertarelli for the postponement of the America's Cup. The article reckoned, ‘Dalton's estimate of losses to his Kiwi team of £12 million if the America's Cup is put back to 2010, and £17 million if it is 2011…’

Sail-World subsequently confirmed the story with a statement from Dalton...

'The report in the Telegraph is substantially true.

'Before Emirates Team New Zealand entered the 2009 America’s Cup we sought from Ernesto Bertarelli the security of a side agreement that the event would indeed be held in 2009.

'Bertarelli was adamant the Cup regatta would go ahead as scheduled and entered into a binding agreement on July 25 2007.

'Emirates Team New Zealand entered into the agreement in good faith. The contract provided the assurance we needed to plan for 2009. For Ernesto Bertarelli the agreement with Emirates Team New Zealand ensured another entry for 2009.

'On November 22 2007 AC Management announced that the America’s Cup had been postponed.

'All challengers including Oracle are still adamant they want an event in 2009. This can be achieved easily now as a result of the New York Supreme court decision in favour of Oracle. The decision allows for a mutually agreed document as the basis of the next America’s Cup.

'Such a document has already been formulated between Oracle and the challengers.

'None of the nine points in this document can be construed as onerous for Alinghi.

'As far as Emirates Team New Zealand is concerned the agreement entered into is a simple contract. Therefore we are surprised that Alinghi has seen fit to put this letter in the public domain.'

Meanwhile, BYM News is running a story that backs up the notion that GGYC/Oracle are working hard towards a 2009 Cup, with leaked letters coming from Tom Ehman and Russell Coutts to interested parties – they have links to the letters and the story here which outlines Oracle's efforts to get Alinghi and Bertarelli to the table to sort out the next event.

But so far, there’s been a deafening silence from the Swiss, and the Detroit Free Press is quoting Tom Ehman (Oracle’s spokesman) as saying that Brad Butterworth didn’t show up for a meeting with Russell on Friday. A subsequent phone call to Alinghi by the paper has been met with the response that they’re still assessing their options. So we’re still left wondering what Bertarelli’s decision will be – negotiate, appeal or race in cats?

And finally, Sebastien Destremau outlines why Russell and Oracle might not be that heart-broken should Alinghi chose the final option and meet a 2008 challenge in giant catamarans, in a story for Eurobutt (scroll down past Magnus) – sentiments which are echoed by a New Zealand Herald article which may owe something to Sebastien’s thoughts – or is it the other way around? Hard to tell on the internet…

When I started this blog at the end of the last Cup and’s coverage, I made some rules for myself about only doing AC news. Stay away from other events and opinion pieces – otherwise the damn thing is going to take over your life (and unless you see any advertising around here, I need some spare time to try and earn a living…) just like did in its day...

The last few weeks (Tornadoes out of the Olympics, Baird not Veal for ISAF World Sailor of the Year, not to mention the ongoing descent into self-destruction of the Cup itself), have sorely tried those limits. But I’m toughing it out – self-interest rules, even when venality is held at bay… why should sailing be any different?

Or maybe I've just got cynical...

Mark Chisnell ©