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26 March 2008, 12:17 pm
Date Battle Latest Impasse For America's Cup
Alinghi multihull training in Lorient
Alinghi multihull training in Lorient

33rd America's Cup

The America's Cup Defender Alinghi and the challenger BMW ORACLE Racing met in Geneva today in an attempt to settle their latest dispute over the dates for the 33rd America's Cup Match.
BMW ORACLE Racing, who as challenger can name the dates provided they give a minimum 10-month notice, want to race in October 2008 but Alinghi say this is too soon, arguing the notice period was affectively on hold during the recent court proceedings between the two teams, and want a match in July 2009.

Representatives from the defender (Lucien MASMEJAN, Alinghi's chief legal adviser and Vice Commodore Fred MEYER of the defending club, the Societe Nautique de Geneve) and the challenger (Russell COUTTS and Tom EHMAN of BMW ORACLE Racing) met in Geneva today to try and find a resolution, although the early signs indicate the most likely outcome is a return to the court rooms.

In a statement released just a few moments ago, MASMEJAN gave Alinghi's response to the meeting: "Despite having had great hopes for today's meeting with GGYC, we were very disappointed with the outcome. GGYC adopted the same approach that it took last year coming to the meeting with a fixed position rather than to discuss and find a resolution in accordance with Justice CAHN's Order.

"We are particularly frustrated by the GGYC's assertion that the agreement made in front of Justice Cahn to 'toll the case' so that the Defender would have 10 months notice as per the Deed of Gift no longer applies and that racing should take place in October 2008."

For their part, the GGYC remain comparatively tight lipped, with the club spokesman EHMAN saying the club did not want to reveal any details of the discussions at this point.

"We remain strongly of the view that the rules on the timing of the event are quite clear. The sooner we race the Deed of Gift match the sooner we can all get the America's Cup back on track," said EHMAN. "We want to move this process forward quickly, and expect to confirm next steps shortly."

In the statement issued by Alinghi, MASMEJAN went on to say, "GGYC confirmed that it has already started building its boat for the America's Cup Match and stated that SNG has time to build a boat by October 2008 but should this not be possible that SNG should compete in an existing boat. This clearly is an extension of the GGYC's strategy to win the America's Cup at all costs as it would guarantee an absurdly miss-matched race - precisely the opposite of the racing that we have come to expect from the America's Cup.

"We remain committed to trying to move the fight from the court room back to the water but the actions of GGYC are making this extremely difficult to achieve. GGYC has successfully guaranteed itself entry via the Courts to the America's Cup Match for the first time, despite its strong statements that its legal action was for the benefit of all Challengers. We will use all avenues open to us to ensure that they are forced to compete in a competitive race in the spirit and tradition of the America's Cup,"

The latest Cup impasse follows the ruling on 18 March from the New York Supreme Court, who rejected the appeal from the defending club the Societe Nautique de Geneve (whose team is Alinghi) against the court's earlier decision replacing the Club Nautico Espanol de Vela with the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco (whose team in BMW ORACLE Racing) as the challenger for the 33rd America's Cup.

This ruling has set the scene for a match under terms identified in the Deed of Gift (the original document that created the America's Cup) to decide the 33rd America's Cup as Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing have been unable to reach a mutual consent agreement upon a protocol governing the next competition. The last time a 'Deed of Gift Match' happened was in 1988, when after another lengthy court battle, the Defender won in the multihull Stars and Stripes.

The Deed outlines the conditions for a best-of-three race match should a protocol fail to be agreed. These conditions affectively set up a match between two giant multihulls, a radical departure from the 25-metre International America's Cup Class monohull used during the 32nd Cup. Amongst the key conditions are that the Challenger can choose the date, whilst the Defender gets to name the venue. In naming the date, the Challenger must give 10 months notice to the Defender. The Deed also specifies that no race shall be sailed in between 1 November-1 May if the races are conducted in the Northern Hemisphere and no race shall be sailed between 1 May-1 November if racing is held in the Southern Hemisphere (ie a match in the Northern Hemisphere must take place between 1 May-1 November and a match in the Southern Hemisphere between 1 November-1 May).

BMW ORACLE Racing named their core sailing team last week and are currently training in Valencia in Extreme 40 catamarans. Meanwhile key members of the Alinghi team arrive in France this week to begin multihull training in Lorient.

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