Ellison Challenges the Defender and the Challenger of Record

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SAIL's editor in Spain received the following announcement on the morning of July 12. Are we ready for some rough and tumble, AC style?

San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club Challenges for 33rd America's Cup

The Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) of San Francisco today presented a formal challenge for the 33rd America's Cup to the Socit Nautique Genve (SNG), defending yacht club of Cup winner Team Alinghi. The challenge was delivered in person on July 11th by representatives of GGYC to an officer of the Swiss club in Geneva. The GGYC challenge follows the SNG's acceptance of what appears to be an invalid challenge that unfairly advantages the defender, Team Alinghi.

After Alinghi won the 32nd America’s Cup on July 3rd, SNG accepted a challenge from the Spanish Club Nautico Espanol de Vela (CNEV). It appears that CNEV is a brand new yacht club specifically created for this challenge and as such fails to meet the requirements for a challenging yacht club as defined by the Deed of Gift. The Deed of Gift, a document written in 1857, defines the rules for the America's Cup to this day. The Deed of Gift requires that the Challenging yacht club conduct an annual regatta on an arm of the sea. CNEV has never conducted a regatta of any kind and thus cannot be a legitimate Cup challenger.

Furthermore, the race Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup agreed to by the challenging yacht club CNEV and the defending SNG are invalid because they fail to specify the rules for the next competition by omitting a specific regatta date, location and class of boat. The Protocol is also invalid because virtually all Challenger rights are eliminated and total control of the event and its rules are granted to the Defender, Team Alinghi. The Alinghi Protocol for the 33rd Americas Cup alters the very nature of the competition giving unprecedented and unfair advantages to the Defender.

Without the basic elements of regatta venue, date and boat design rules as required by the Deed of Gift, the Alinghi Protocol provides no opportunity for a fair and equitable competition. Only the Defender can begin to plan their campaign and design their yachts while all the other competitors must sit and wait for further information. We have spoken with most of our fellow AC 32 Challengers and we believe that they share our view. We seek to continue to expand and build upon the successes of the 32nd America's Cup which was exciting and rewarding for competitors, sponsors, media and fans by returning to an environment where mutual consent in forming the rules provided a fair and close competition for all.

We will endeavor to work with SNG to mutually agree to appropriate terms for the 33rd America's Cup to keep the event exciting and fair for all. Under SNG's stewardship, the 32nd America's Cup delivered some of the most hotly-contested racing in recent Cup history and brought Cup sailing to more people worldwide than ever before. We hope we can build on this for the future and continue the momentum we started here together in Valencia.

The Deed of Gift requires the Defender to accept a valid challenge, and together the Defender and Challenger can mutually agree on the rules for the competition. Failing such agreement, then the original rules in the Deed will dictate the terms, defaulting to a challenge to take place in ten months with a boat defined by the challenger.

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