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14 February 2002, 10:38 am
Out of Court Settlement Sought By OneWorld
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Americas Cup

United States America's Cup syndicate OneWorld has increased the pressure on a former worker to settle out of court his claims the syndicate obtained Team New Zealand's yachting design secrets illegally.
Chief executive Gary Wright said OneWorld now had three affidavits from leading cup figures saying the worker, Auckland lawyer Sean Reeves, approached them with OneWorld secrets.

The latest affidavit has been sworn by Team Dennis Conner operations manager Bill Trenkle.

Trenkle yesterday confirmed he had sworn a statement, but would not say what was in it.

OneWorld lodged a lawsuit against Reeves last year claiming he was trying to sell $6 million of their secrets.

In turn, Reeves has countersued, saying it was OneWorld who illegally obtained other syndicates' secrets. He accused former Team New Zealand head designer Laurie Davidson of passing on confidential design data when he joined the Americans.

Wright, who, with Davidson, denied Reeves' claims, said the syndicate wanted the matter resolved out of court because it was bringing the regatta into disrepute.

Wright said he did not know what would persuade Reeves to drop his countersuit, but said having three affidavits against him was strong evidence and they wanted to settle.

"It is our preferred option. In actions like this, nobody's a winner," Wright said. "Eventually the evidence becomes overwhelming."

He said Trenkle had approached OneWorld after publicity about the case. In his statement Trenkle alleged Reeves spoke to him about Team New Zealand and OneWorld design information.

Trenkle said he stopped the meeting.

OneWorld's legal action against Reeves is not due to be heard until after the next cup, in about April next year.

But the continuing poor publicity will be a problem for OneWorld and their sponsors, and the integrity of the entire regatta.

OneWorld is also anxious the affair is sorted before the challenger series begins on October 1, and that no questions can be asked about the validity of their challenge.

Accordingly, they have referred any information they think might be queried as a potential transfer of technology from another syndicate, specifically barred by cup rules, to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel for a ruling.

Panel head Sir David Tompkins, a retired High Court judge, said a decision was likely in three to four weeks.

Courtesy New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald/ISAF Secretariat
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