The following was released on Thanksgiving Day, and it is rather more candid than most of the public utterances we've received on the subject of America's Cup, delays, and legal issues—KL
TEAMORIGIN’s ambitions held up by court case
Thursday November 22, 2007
Britain’s America’s Cup challenge affected as next event is potentially postponed for at least 12 months
Today, America’s Cup Management (ACM), the America’s Cup event organising authority, has announced that the 33rd America’s Cup, originally scheduled for 2009, will be postponed to a later date. ACM cited the uncertainty surrounding the ongoing court case between San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) and the defending Socit Nautique de Genve (SNG) as the reason for the delay.
The case, brought by the American team in July of this year, questions the legitimacy of the Club Nutico Espaol de Vela (CNEV), a new Spanish club that became the signatory of the Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup and Challenger of Record (COR) following the Swiss team’s victory in the previous event. The GGYC, a past COR, offered to drop the case in return for several significant changes to elements of the event’s rules, structure and format. Initially seen as a headache, the situation has grown over the following months into ‘a wall across the road’ for all entities trying to prepare for the next event.
At the same time as TEAMORIGIN and the four other bone fide challengers participated in a consultative process with the Defender and ACM on the Competition and Event Regulations and the new AC90 Class Rule - the exciting new and larger class of boat proposed for the 33rd America’s Cup - the five have also been actively mediating between the two litigating parties.
“Last week we came to within a hair’s breadth of a solution that should have been acceptable to both. Unfortunately the tactics employed by the two have sometimes brought into question the willingness of both to want to find a solution at all,” said Mike Sanderson, TEAMORIGIN’s Team Director.
With this uncertainty hanging over the America’s Cup the teams and the organisation would be unable to finalise commercial and logistical arrangements for 2009 had that date been kept. This now necessary delay is required to ensure that the next competition will be an event of the highest standards and standing possible, something that is expected of the America’s Cup.
“This is a really sad day for the America’s Cup and a bad day for sport,” said said Sir Keith Mills, TEAMORIGIN’s Team Principal. “Disputes like this should not be resolved in a Court of Law. For one team to seek to impose its will on a sporting event by using a lawsuit is reprehensible. For another team to slow the process down is equally damning. The full rejection of the offer from the GGYC to the SNG made last week meant that any chance of an ‘out of court settlement’ appeared to have gone.
“We can only all hope that common sense will prevail and that over the following days the parties will come to their senses and realise that the offer on the table is a good one for all concerned. If that was to pass then we could all get on with making our respective arrangements for an event in Valencia in either 2010 or 2011. If that doesn’t happen we can only surmise that the greed of one side is only matched by the belligerence of the other.”
Without that common sense, however, the future of the 33rd America’s Cup lies in the hands of the man who presides over the court case, Judge Herman Cahn. It has now been five weeks since his court in New York heard the case and he is expected to hand down his decision on the validity of the CNEV in a matter of days. Depending on the outcome several different scenarios will emerge, all affecting TEAMORIGIN’s plans for the future to a greater or lesser extent.
“TEAMORIGIN is as committed to winning the America’s Cup now as ever however with so much uncertainty as to the dates, venue, rules etc., it is difficult for any of the teams to move forward with their plans,” continued Sir Keith.
“It is also important to remember that until Justice Cahn finds in favour of the GGYC, TEAMORIGIN is a Challenger for the 33rd America’s Cup. However, should he find for the GGYC and the SNG adopt their stated position of accepting the GGYC’s Deed of Gift challenge then the validity of the current Protocol will cease and the status of TEAMORIGIN as a Challenger for the 33rd America’s Cup will also end. In that case TEAMORIGIN will have to calculate the implications for the event and the team and make its plans accordingly,” concluded Sanderson.