GGYC Would Not Bring Cup Home to USA. 8

Okay, it’s a typically alarmist headline, but not a million miles from what was said by Tom Ehman, Russell Coutts and an entourage of BMW ORACLE press and operations people in front of the press in Valencia yesterday. They were there to make 4 announcements. The conference coincided with a letter sent from GGYC to SNG following up on points that the parties have been arguing about in court. We are fairly sure that most of the internet commentators have not listened to the entire event. We have ignored the section devoted to ‘Louis Vuitton’ style events, because frankly at this stage they are a distraction.

While the letter sent from GGYC to SNG was full of legal pedantry, the press conference had a lighter PR spin feel. The result was the usual explosion of hate and mistrust from the internet with opinion split along party lines. The America’s Cup seems like a small oil-rich country being fought over by armies with completely different faiths. Ultimately the event itself, once widely seen as the pinnacle of the sport is becoming more tarnished every day.

While BMW ORACLE’s announcements were delivered in a calm, friendly tone, there were some controversial points. The American team still seem to use the Deed of Gift when it suits them, and ignore it in other places where it is better for the cup to do so. Some see this strategy as making BMW ORACLE look reasonable while making Alinghi look like the bad guys. Others see it as a cynical PR exercise – a good cop bad cop routine that presents a friendly face to the media while keeping the highly trained lawyers looking for more and more loopholes.

So what were the announcements?

  1. That AC33, the DOG match be raced in Valencia in February.
  2. That AC34, (should BMW ORACLE win) be raced in Valencia.
  3. That ISAF be appointed mediator to prevent more court appearances.
  4. That Groupama 3 will be using the Valencia base.

Annoucement 1 is no surprise and no change to BMW ORACLE’s stated position. They reitereated that their interpretation of the courts order was to race in Valencia or a southern hemisphere venue.  The maddening thing is that the court’s ruling still leaves wiggle room over what is a venue allowed by the Deed of gift. Alinghi are trying to be mysterious about it. They don’t have to announce the venue until 6 months before the date, but they don’t have many choices.

The presentation was civil, but during questioning, Coutts did have a dig at Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli saying “Bertarelli has stated that no matter what, the venue would be Valencia and I am sure he is a man of his word.”

More controversial perhaps is BMW ORACLE’s position that if they ‘are lucky enough’ to win AC33 that they intend to hold AC34 in Valencia. Perhaps appealing to the local press, the American team’s argument is that announcing a venue now gives certainty to other challengers, but it is a massive slap in the face to American fans. It is one thing for a landlocked country to hold a race nearby, it is quite another for the Golden Gate Yacht Club to defend the Cup on a different continent.

BMW ORACLE when questioned said that they have given commitments to officials in Spain to hold the cup in Valencia should they prevail. While the nature of the cup changes all the time, this would end the idea that a yacht club competed to bring the cup ‘home’. One of the motivations to win the America’s Cup is to bring the event, media rights, infrastructure and tourists to your home country. It is incredible to imagine this statement coming from an American yacht club.

As a consolation prize to the country that held the cup for 132 years, BMW ORACLE will name the boat they use in AC33 – USA.

BMW ORACLE stated yesterday that they are prepared to accept mediation. They suggest that ISAF be the adjudicator. This process would stop the two parties having to return to court over and over and over again. It’s a great gesture, but these parties have not managed to agree on anything and have ignored calls from past defenders to solve their difference, have failed to reach agreement with other mediators. We think that this isn’t going far enough, that the parties should both be forced into arbitration. Tom Ehman highlighted the problem with this yesterday saying that the court cannot force mediation.

While the deed of gift is not a perfect document, it was never supposed to be. The addition of ‘mutual consent’ clauses allows for anything, provided the defender and challenger act in a sportsmanlike manner. Rather than choose a side, we would accuse both parties of being equally guity of behaving in an unsportsmanlike manner. Unfortunately, the America’s Cup does not fall under the jurisdiction of a world governing body – as GGYC have told us over and over again – the ultimate juristiction for the Cup is the New York courts.

Ultimately, the quirks of the cup mean that it makes it very difficult to break the deadlocks. Team principals seem incapable of showing leadership, content to destroy all the brand equity built by a widely acknowledged successful AC32. It’s not over yet which is dissapointing for all concerned.

  • Good point about mediation versus Arbitration. ISAF has no jurisdiction here and so unlike cricket where the ICB can ban players or stop teams touring countries with oppresive regimes, there is no way to break the deadlock.

    At the end of the day, the America's cup is sport. Sport that is worth big bucks, but ultimately sport. If these people were in any other sport, they would have been banned for bringing the sport into disrepute.

    Ban them all, suspend all owners, sailors and officials associated with either SNG or GGYC and give the cup back to the New York Yacht Club. grab the AC33 boat rule, return to a protocol that everyone thought was 'pretty' fair and get on with it. Both these clubs have forfeitted the right to be a defender or challenger.

  • Why doesn't BMW ORACLE fly a Spanish flag on USA? seems the King of Spain and the Mayor of Valencia are more important to them than their US Fans. What am I saying – Coutts has shown he will swap his nationality for whoever pays him the most.

  • Funny. I get a BMW ad when I look at this page. I suggest a boycott – stop buying BMW's and buy a Volvo instead. Support a company that supports sailing rather than drags it though the courts. If Larry and Ernesto have no shame, perhaps the brand managers at BMW do.

  • Mike

    I don't get it. Tom Ehman says that the LV style races would be held in San-Francisco, but the actual cup races would be in Valencia. Surely this adds more cost than if you just held the lot in San Francisco.

  • alpinefolk

    Suprised by BMW ORACLE suggestion that they would hold the AC34 in Valencia, (should they win). While this would be unpopular with US fans, the fact interest in the AC has been faggin in the US for the last few events, while steadily increasing in europe (especially if the number of team entries is anything to go by).
    If Emirates Team NZ had won the last cup, they would have brought the cup back down under, but I believe it should stay in Europe where it has the greatest audience. (as much as I'd like to see it back in NZ).

  • The suggestion that the audience for the America's Cup changes depending on the venue only goes so far. Last year, the largest televised sporting events were all olympic occasions including the volleyball final between China and Cuba. You might as well hold the 34th America's Cup in Quingdao if all you want is high television numbers.

  • peter Rusch

    “Team principals seem incapable of showing leadership, content to destroy all the brand equity built by a widely acknowledged successful AC32. It’s not over yet which is dissapointing for all concerned.”

    Truer words have rarely been spoken.

  • peter Rusch

    “Team principals seem incapable of showing leadership, content to destroy all the brand equity built by a widely acknowledged successful AC32. It’s not over yet which is dissapointing for all concerned.”

    Truer words have rarely been spoken.