Next week, Brad Butterworth and Tom Ehman will go head to head at the World Yacht Racing forum in Monaco. Yachtsponsorship.com will be there to here what they have to say, but in the mean time, various things are afoot.
The Herald Tribune has run an article about the recent challenger meetings leaving BMW ORACLE out in the cold. Both Larry Ellison and Sir Keith Mills are quoted on the issue:
Ellison maintains that Bertarelli’s attempts to strong-arm the Cup have been motivated by personal dislike for Coutts and competitive concern about the powerhouse team that Coutts and Ellison have assembled. But BMW Oracle has found itself increasingly isolated in recent weeks as Alinghi has pushed forward with planning for a conventional Cup in 2010, inviting would-be challengers to meet in Switzerland and work through the rules in concert.
“I can’t really answer for them; I think there’s a lot of them that are anxious just to get this event going and maybe regardless of the rules,” Coutts said of the participating teams.
But Keith Mills, the head of the British challenger Team Origin, said on Thursday that there had been genuine and significant compromises made. He said he intended to contact Ellison and Coutts directly before the entry deadline of Dec. 15 for the prospective Cup in 2010 to provide them with details of the revised rules, called a protocol, and to urge BMW Oracle to drop its lawsuit and join the competition.
Both Coutts and Ellison said that they would not relent unless Alinghi formally commits to “fair rules” that are identical or very close in spirit to those used for last year’s Cup and do not allow Alinghi to control, among other things, the selection of the majority of race officials.
“We don’t trust Ernesto, and we think we have good reason not to trust him,” Ellison said. “All you have to do is look at the first set of rules and realize he’s been forced to make these compromises because of the lawsuit. He hasn’t willingly made these, and he still has not made enough compromises.”
Mills struck a different tone. “We want to give them every opportunity to be there and frankly so do all the other challengers,” he said of Oracle. “But what isn’t going to happen and what Russell called for is that we send the protocol to Russell for him to write a long critique for what he’d like changed. We’re not going to have one team do that.”
“It’s not going to be exactly what they want, not going to be exactly what anybody wants. It’s not exactly what Alinghi wants, but on balance is it fair? I think it’s fair, and I hope Larry and Russell agree. But if they don’t, they’re big boys, and they can take their chances in court.” Rapprochement is still hardly out of the question, but unlike Alinghi, which is still building its multihull, BMW Oracle’s backup plan is already afloat and casting very long shadows across the Pacific.
In the mean time, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, (GGYC), have submitted their Court of Appeals Reply Brief. The reason for bringing the action, in light of events in recent weeks, seems a bit thin, but the more technical issue in the Deed of Gift, relating to whether or not CNEV is a legitimate yacht club seems to hold up.
Meanwhile, Grant Simmer from Alinghi has said that the revised protocol, as agreed by the 12 teams that are at the table, will be published after the next meeting, scheduled to be held on the 12th of December.