The Best and the Brightest Blah…


The New York judges were pretty clear, the Deed of Gift had its day and it seemed like we all knew where we stood with regards to the America’s Cup. No more lawyers, just competitive sailors fighting it out on the water. Yeah right!

Yesterday, we didn’t report that the delegations for the meeting to be held between GGYC and SNG would include people with the world Counsel in their titles. More lawyers. Alinghi at least will field Brad Butterworth who has shown in the past that he has the authority to speak for and make decisions on behalf of the team.

GGYC and BMW ORACLE’s team will notably NOT include Russell Coutts or Tom Ehman. The pundits have already suggested many reasons for this – but this time we are not buying into it. It’s back to ‘who cares’? The speculation about the team’s motives would be just as frenzied if Ehman was attending. GGYC have stated that they have given their delegation full authority to negotiate an agreement.

GGYC and BMW ORACLE will use the pundits and media to try and influence the outcome though. Yesterday they issued a letter that outlined their two options. Every time I hear the words ‘Mutual consent’ in relation to the America’s Cup, I hear Tom Ehman’s voice. Ehman’s time on stage at last year’s World Yacht Racing Forum included the phrase over and over and over again.

It’s written in the Deed of Gift and on the face of it sounds like a good thing. But mutual consent seems to be being used by GGYC as a get out clause. A way of blocking anything they don’t like while expecting others to consent to their way of thinking. The faithful swallow the headline about GGYC having always wanted a multichallenger event, but there is no detail.

Yesterday’s letter includes the words mutual consent twice. Once in relation to the protocol and once in relation to the make up of the Board of ACM. The first reference ignores the fact that the protocol as it stands was created with the mutual consent of up to 19 other teams. Rather than take advantage of the time and effort that has gone into the process of creating the document, it seems GGYC and BMW ORACLE can either re-write it in a form they like in an afternoon or want to embark on a new process to find mutual consent.

The GGYC/BMW ORACLE proposed multichallenger event is rather vague on details. It calls for the same rules and format as AC32, but with unspecified cost cutting measures. The one concession they have made is that they propose the use of the boat design that has come out of the Alinghi hosted negotiations.

The second ‘option’ is well meaning, and tries to bring long time sponsor (sorry – partner) Louis Vuitton back to the table, but it also introduces new egos and agendas in the guise of tradition. We can’t see Alinghi going for option 2.

The America’s Cup is supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport of Sailing. Yet these supposed high-flying businessmen can’t even decide who should be playing the game, let alone what the rules are. For all the tradition of the America’s Cup and the Deed of Gift, the one thing we have learnt is that as a sporting code it is massively flawed.

Meanwhile in real sailing news….