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 ©

The AP is Hoisted…

The much flagged, smoke-signalled, rumoured and inevitable postponement has become fact - America’s Cup Management (ACM) have finally announced that the original date for a Cup defence of 2009 cannot be achieved…

‘The ongoing uncertainty around the conclusion of the New York court case brought by BMW Oracle Racing (BOR) leaves the organisers no choice but to delay the event, as many indicators demonstrate a lack of viability to stage the event in 2009 to the same standards as the 32nd America's Cup.’

Meanwhile they will await the result from the New York State Supreme Court, and…

‘If the New York Supreme Court rules that CNEV (Challenger of Record, Club Náutico Español de Vela) is valid and BOR chooses not to appeal the decision, ACM will endeavour to work with the competitors to adapt the existing rules and regulations and put in place a new framework for an event to take place at a later stage in Valencia.

‘Should the US Courts rule against CNEV, SNG will accept the Golden Gate Yacht Club Deed of Gift Challenge and meet them in a vessel, possibly a multihull, in accordance with the terms of the Deed of Gift.’

GGYC’s response was posted on their website as efficiently as ever. Tom Ehman saying that the delay was ‘Unfortunate and unnecessary...’ Presumably they are now working flat out on what that 90 foot cat might look like... unless Alinghi are bluffing about not appealing. What a game.

There's been plenty of speculation that ACM need the time to do things like find a sponsor for the Cup. And the Spanish media are alleging that there's a stand-off between the Mayor of Valencia and the Government over who holds the Chair of the organisation that will run the Valencia side of the event. Apparently the Government want it to rotate, and Mayor Barbera is insisting that it’s her privilege alone - meanwhile the organisation appears to be in some sort of limbo. Something else that perhaps needs a little time to sort out?

Another issue that will arise out of the postponement is the planned expansion of Valencia's port - I believe the work to double the port’s operational area was originally slated for 2010/11 – no problem under the 2009 scenario, but a bit tricky now.

It’s also interesting that ACM have left the entry deadline at 15th December - a little over three weeks away. It means challengers have to stump up a 950,000 Euro performance bond that they will lose should they not subsequently turn up at a series of events whose whereabouts and timing are completely unknown. Now I know a million Euros is not a lot of money in the greater scheme of an America’s Cup campaign, but it’s still the kind of dough that would buy you a pretty decent house around these parts. Just.

Nevertheless, there appear to be plenty of takers, perhaps driven by the declining number of shorebases in Valencia, and/or the need to enter to renew existing leases and maintain operations there. ACM stated in the press release that they now have eight entered challengers, with another couple doing the paperwork. Presumably Mascalzone is one of them, announcing their challenge through the Reale Yacht Club Canottieri Savoia (RYCCS) on their website, but with no detail. Or what might be interpreted as a marked lack of enthusiasm. They have been joined by the new Spanish syndicate AYRE Challenge, representing Real Club Náutico de Dénia (RCND) – more detail on this one at Valencia Sailing blogspot.

But who’s the eighth? An earlier announcement from ACM had stated that… ‘In addition to Ayre's entry, there is one other new team whose challenge has already been confirmed, but who has requested confidentiality pending its own announcement.’

Meanwhile, the uncertainty has forced Team New Zealand (TNZ) to issue denials of a Times story that Dalton would shut the operation down if the court case wasn’t settled by the end of the year. It might make sense to close the doors for a while till the dust settles, these teams burn money while they're operating, but TNZ has a much greater asset value as a going concern than as a fire-sale of pieces. I can't believe that Dalts would shut it down completely as anything but an absolutely last resort...

Team Origin have responded to the situation with some pretty direct language... 'If that (settlement and a 2010/11 event) doesn't happen we can only surmise the greed of one side is only matched by the belligerence of the other.'

While Sail-World have another interview with Hamish Ross, Alinghi's General Counsel, which doesn't - to be honest - tell us much we don't already know...

And as for the much maligned issue of CNEV’s annual regatta (which may or may not be at the heart of the court case), their third attempt to hold it is underway

There’s an interview with Grant Simmer, Alinghi’s design team coordinator on their website

And I'm off surfing next week, although the swell forecast is marginal at best, there comes a time when you just have to get in the water regardless. But hopefully there will be a wi-fi link somewhere should there be anything worth reporting...

Mark Chisnell ©

The End Game?

It appears we might be reaching the beginning of the end, with a press release issued by America’s Cup Management (ACM) on 13th November. The first part was pretty uncontroversial, announcing the release of the Event Regulations. These are the final part of the rules that will govern the 33rd America’s Cup, under the Protocol announced by Alinghi and the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) back in July (feels a lot longer…).

The Event Regulations cover the commercial basis of the event, and include a deadline for entry, the 15th December – the entry fees and performance bond add up to a million Euros, which should separate the men from the boys.

So far so good, it’s the final paragraphs that smack of an ultimatum…

All the elements required to proceed with a successful competition in 2009 are now in place, and have the support of the Challenger of Record and all the existing competitors. However, the possibility of a race for the Cup in 2009 is impaired because of the negative effects that Golden Gate Yacht Club's (GGYC) lawsuit is having on sponsors and other arrangements for the Event.

The Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) has therefore required GGYC to withdraw its lawsuit by November 16 at 1700 hours, New York time, and to clarify its position with regard to its participation in the 33rd America's Cup.


The response from the GGYC was swift and pointed, saying that Alinghi had called off the talks that might have produced a negotiated settlement ahead of the court case. Tom Ehman was quoted as saying for GGYC…

This is highly surprising and disappointing. We had accepted assurances from challengers that the new design rule was fair and we were confident yesterday that other outstanding points were well on their way to being resolved in a way that was good for everyone.

‘We offered to drop our legal challenge in return for Alinghi making the agreed changes to the rules. The other challengers have been very helpful in getting us to what we thought was virtual agreement.

‘But only hours later, Ernesto Bertarelli’s lawyer, Lucien Masmejan, called to say they would not proceed with the settlement.

‘We hope they will reconsider their position, and we remain open to further discussions before a court ruling that could come any day.

Just as entertaining is the private exchange of letters ahead of these public pronouncements, which the GGYC have kindly posted on their website. First up, SNG/Alinghi’s letter to the Golden Gate, saying much the same thing as the press release – enter and drop the lawsuit, or … umm, well, actually there was no ‘or’...

Then GGYC/Oracle’s response, which says that SNG must have known GGYC would reject this ultimatum - as they have rejected all the others - and so GGYC conclude that SNG want the court case to proceed, and have given up on racing an America’s Cup in 2009. The letter offers to continue the negotiations...

So, there you have it – what does it all mean? Justice Cahn is the man with all the cards…

Meanwhile, United Internet Team Germany (UITG) have been hiring sailors. And Team Shosholoza have announced a new designer, Alex Simonis (best known for 90 footer Nicorette, line honours winner in the 2004 Sydney-Hobart), to replace Jason Ker, who had previously decamped for UITG…

Mark Chisnell ©

The New Boat...

America’s Cup Management (ACM) delivered on time yesterday with the issue of the rule for the new America’s Cup class, as required under their Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup. The process, as we’ve reported previously, has been lead by Tom Schnackenberg, with input from the six challengers currently entered – and Alinghi.

The new boat is 90ft overall maximum length, 6.5m in draft when it’s racing, with a displacement of 23 tons and designed to a box rule. It was the displacement that the challengers were apparently allowed to set, to negate any prior knowledge of the rule that Alinghi might have had – and hopefully any headstart on the design process.

ACM issued a press release about all this, but more interestingly they also issued the rule itself. I don’t think anyone was expecting that, as ACM had previously made a big deal of withholding knowledge of the rule from anyone that hadn’t entered the 33rd America’s Cup, and therefore accepted all the other (disputed) conditions of the Protocol. But now the rule is out there, and the ball is definitely in the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (GGYC) court.

GGYC, who, along with Oracle have led the attack in the New York State Supreme court on the 33rd Protocol, had previously issued a press release on the 25th October stating that, ‘The American team (Oracle) has told challengers it is ready to agree to wide ranging new proposals discussed over the last 24 hours if it can confirm for itself that the design rule developed by Alinghi is fair for all competitors.’

Well, now the rule is out there, we’ll all be expecting to hear from the GGYC next…

Meanwhile, the Spanish bloggers have been getting much exercised over the issue that’s pivotal to the court case – the credibility of the Challenger of Record, Club Nautico Español de Vela (CNEV). The Valencia Sailing blogspot has a nice story on efforts to join the aforementioned club - revealing that you can’t. While Scuttlebutt have translated a blog by Jaime Soler, who writes in Spanish, about the Notice of Race for the CNEV’s third attempt to hold an ‘annual regatta on an arm of the sea’ – one of the conditions for any challenging yacht club. It's not pretty...

Mark Chisnell ©

One Small Step for Alinghi…

Might be a giant step for America’s Cup racing – or it might not.... Alinghi appeared to blink first in their stand-off with Oracle Racing over the Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup, when on Friday they announced that they were making some changes to the disputed Protocol, after discussions with the Arbitration Panel and those competitors that have already entered.

The Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) and Alinghi’s announcement came with an appeal to BMW Oracle Racing and the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) to lay down their weapons – the court case due to be heard on the 22nd October – and enter the event under the new Protocol. They reckon that the changes address many of the issues raised by GGYC, and Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth referred to recent discussions with Russell Coutts, Oracle’s skipper.

The changes to the Protocol are:

The power to disqualify a competitor has been clarified so that should a competitor refuse to be bound by the Protocol, they now have recourse to the Arbitration Panel before they can be thrown out.

America’s Cup Management (ACM) can now only refuse entry to the event on specific grounds – such as capacity at the venue.

There are changes to the power of ACM to amend the Protocol in relation to the Arbitration Panel, and these changes must now be subjected to Arbitration Panel approval first. ACM no longer have the power to remove members of the Arbitration Panel.

The ‘neutral management’ has been changed so that the Fair Sailing rule is extended to apply to all matters directly related to the regatta.

If you want to decide for yourself if this will keep BMW Oracle from the court, they list their issues with the 33rd Protocol in their media backgrounder here...

Or you can cut to the chase and go straight to an article on the Guardian website, where Tom Ehman (Head of External Affairs for BMW Oracle Racing) is quoted as saying that ‘We welcome some new points, but the changes are largely cosmetic and do not address the central issues.’ Ehman added that GGYC will not be withdrawing the court case on the basis of these amendments, and they want to negotiate a settlement directly with SNG.

So it looks like we will rumble on towards the day in court for now - whether or not this first step closer to a negotiated settlement will be followed up with more remains to be seen. Presumably GGYC are now in a better position to judge the strength of the SNG case, as they had to file their papers with the court last week. Alinghi appear to have posted these documents on their website here. As I believe I've mentioned before, if I wanted to read this stuff myself, I'd have taken law classes...

Meanwhile, United Internet Team Germany, one of those teams who have entered under the current Protocol, have got their man - Jochen Schuemann has left Alinghi to lead the German challenge. Schuemann had been sailing director at Alinghi for the last two Cups. But his absence from the race boat in the 32rd Match against Team New Zealand hinted at a coming departure. There's an interview with Schuemann on BYM.

Schuemann is joined by Jason Ker, the Brit who was chief designer at Team Shosholoza, the South African entry in the last event. Porsche and Audi have put their money down as sponsors, and the team has bought one of the Alinghi boats - SUI-91. There’s a report on the press conference on the Valencia Sailing blogspot.

And earlier last week, ACM doled out the 66.5 million euro profit from the previous America’s Cup. ACM take a ten percent cut as a management fee (this is after all the costs have been deducted from the gross of 240 million euros), then 45% goes to Alinghi, and the rest is shared between the challengers. ACM state that Emirates Team New Zealand will receive over nine million euros as the Challenger, while those teams that didn’t make the semi-finals will be making do with just over a million each - not quite enough to hire a top flight skipper then...?

Mark Chisnell ©

Arbitration Panel Rules

Those of you who have been following the affair of the 33rd Protocol carefully, will remember that America's Cup Management (ACM) had referred the validity of Club Nautico Español de Vela (CNEV) (the Challenger of Record disputed by the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC)) - to the Arbitration Panel set up by ACM to adjudicate over the 33rd America's Cup.

Whatever you thought about that, and GGYC didn't think much, the Arbitration Panel has just come to a decision. This is the ACM press release on the matter, which you can read here.

'This afternoon, the Arbitration Panel reached a decision on the ACAP 33/01 case, in the matter of the Protocol governing the 33rd America’s Cup and in the matter of an application filed by SNG on July 20, 2007 in respect of the validity of the challenge of Club Nautico Español de Vela (“CNEV”) for the 33rd America’s Cup. In compliance with directions from the Arbitration Panel, the full document will be made available from this website Monday September 10, but it the meantime this is the summary of the decision:

“[162] The decision of the Panel is the following:

The Panel (i) has the competence to rule on its own jurisdiction and (ii) also has jurisdiction to rule on the present matter;

The challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup made by CNEV on July 3, 2007 (i) is a valid challenge entitling CNEV to challenge for the America’s Cup as Challenger of Record and (ii) SNG is obligated to accept (as it was the first valid challenge it received);

The Protocol signed by SNG and CNEV on July 3, 2007 complies with the Deed of Gift; and

Although this does not affect the compliance of the existing Protocol with the Deed of Gift, the Panel believes that SNG and CNEV should consider amending the Protocol in respect of some of its provisions as stated in point points [155] and [156]."'

It will be interesting to see what changes the Panel have proposed in points 155 and 156. I guess we get to see that on Monday - will it be enough to keep GGYC happy? That's also the day when the action opens in Justice Cahn's court...

Mark Chisnell ©

Coming at You...

A flurry of news from the Cup in the last few days, so we’ll start at the beginning with a link to a nice story by the people at BYM News, who have gone to the trouble of reading Tom Ehman’s affidavit (as presented to the New York State Supreme Court by the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (GGYC) legal team, in their challenge to Société Nautique de Genève (SNG)). In which Tom has an interesting story about an SNG ploy to hand the Cup off to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, should they become unstuck in the New York Court.

BYM followed up this affidavit analysis with another cracker of a story, in which John Crawford, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, denied all knowledge of the plan...

And for those of you who like nothing better than curling up in bed at night with a good legal document to read, I can offer you the decision from the 1988 court case. In which Mercury Bay Yacht Club went up against San Diego YC in a similar dust up over the nature of the next event. The court gives some interesting opinions that will presumably be taken into account in deciding the case now before it.

Then there was the fall-out on the story from the previous post, in which Ernesto Bertarelli had apparently asked that the chairman of the jury at the recent Farr 40 Worlds, Tom Ehman (the very same as mentioned above) should step down. But the jury, the class, and ISAF all decided otherwise, and Ehman stayed. As reported by Stuart Alexander amongst others, Ernesto followed that up by not turning up for the prize giving, after being beaten into second place by Vincenzo Onorato and his Mascalzone Latino team. Onorato is one of the refuseniks that have spoken out against Alinghi’s Protocol for the 33rd Cup.

Meanwhile, Team Origin, the British Challenger for the America’s Cup, have been throwing their weight behind Alinghi’s wheel with a statement on their website arguing for the Protocol. Of the three points they present in favour of the Protocol only one of them is actually in that document, the others were presented at a subsequent press conference and currently have no official standing - but leaving that hair splitting aside, the Brits clearly have a strategy in backing Alinghi, and I’m sure it will become apparent, sooner or later…

And then there’s ACM, who yesterday (presumably, as I can’t find any evidence of it) presented papers to the New York State Supreme Court in defence of their position. And for good measure gave a progress report on preparations for the 33rd Cup. Their account of it is on their website, while BYM News have a story on the views of Hamish Ross (who’s Alinghi’s legal counsel) on the court case. There isn't too much here that we haven't heard before, but it is good to see ACM coming out and defending their position, rather than just ranting at Ellison.

And on that theme, AFP report that Brad Butterworth offered Oracle and the Golden Gate Yacht Club an entry into the Cup (under the current Protocol). Butterworth is quoted as saying, ‘If Golden Gate entered now, and got on with the game of the America's Cup, they'd be accepted. We want them to be in the next America's Cup.’ And it does look as though the warring parties might be talking to each other...

ACM also announced that United Internet Team Germany have become the fifth official challenge to enter under the protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup.

And finally… the Valencia Sailing Blogspot reports that the contract for Valencia to host the 33rd America's Cup has been signed, although there appears to be some issue amongst the three Spanish signatories as to who’s actually running the show.

Make that... almost finally... as in that same Valencia Sailing story, there’s a report on the Vuelta de España a Vela which is apparently CNEV's latest 'annual regatta on an arm of the sea'. So far, Mr Pierre Orphanidis doesn’t sound very convinced…

So now you’re as up to date as I am - but are you any the wiser as to how this is all going to turn out? I’m certainly not.

And that's about all you're going to get in the way of insight and analysis on all this, but hey, I've got a novel to finish....

Mark Chisnell ©

Turning the Gas Up...

If anyone thought that the presence in Copenhagen, Denmark (at the Farr 40 Worlds) of major players from both sides of the Alinghi v Oracle divide meant an opportunity for negotiation and conciliation, they will have to think again. This piece from Stuart Alexander's fine blogspot...

'By the way, there has already been an angry confrontation in the not so wonderful city of Copenhagen. It has been cold and miserable for the Farr 40 worlds, but some heat was injected from outside when Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi asked that the chairman of the jury, Tom Ehman, should step down. As Ehman is at the centre of the litigation by GGYC, at the behest of BMW Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Alinghi, as a competitor, felt there could be some conflict of interest.

Ehman did not step down, doubtless because he thought that his four co-jurors would never allow themselves to be manipulated in what could be seen as vindictive behavour. But Bertarelli’s skipper, Brad Butterworth, is incensed and has written to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) with a formal complaint.'

Time for another weary sigh?

I should also point you in the direction of a Q&A with America’s Cup Management's (ACM) Chief Operating Officer, Michel Hodara in the Scuttlebutt for 31st August.

'Q: By the defender participating in the challenger trials (per the Protocol of the 33rd event), is it not possible that the defender may influence the ultimate outcome of the challenger trials? Given that the threat of elimination does not exist for the defender, it would seem conceivable that the defender may choose to lose to a lesser team, which might help this team advance past a stronger challenger that could ultimately pose a problem for the defender in the America's Cup. At the very least, the participation of the defender does open the door for this type of concern.'

'MH: In order to reduce costs, it has been decided to impose to sail only one boat at a time. Therefore, it was reasonable that the Defender could take part in the Challenger series, otherwise, the Defender would have no opportunity to race an opponent while the challengers raced in the Challenger Series.'

Which is as fine a job of not answering the question as I've heard from any politician in recent years. If I'd paid more attention in my freshman Logic 101 classes (was it my fault they were scheduled at siesta time?) I could probably give you the technical name for this kind of flawed argument. But suffice to point out that perhaps the conclusion should be that the problem is with the one boat rule - since it's clearly not reasonable that the Defender can have an impact on the outcome of the Challenger trials, as Michel Hodara's answer seems to accept.

Mark Chisnell ©

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 ©