More America’s Cup Court Rulings… Statements… Stuff

This week, the FIA – motorsport’s governing body showed that it doesn’t matter who you are, if you bring the sport into disrepute and act in an unsportsmanlike way, you will be dealt with harshly. Now former Renault F1 team principal Flavio Briatore have been banned from the sport for life for his part in the controversy. It’s not just a “you can’t be part of the action” ban – the punishment includes being banned from the paddock of any FIA event and also applies to any drivers managed by Briatore.

What does this have to do with the America’s Cup? Well …. the most recent court ruling in New York goes so far as to call the tactics used by the Golden Gate Yacht Club as unsportsmanlike. To be sure, the offenses of both Alinghi and BMW ORACLE against the sport of sailing aren’t quite as serious as match fixing, but nevertheless, there are not many who would argue that the long term schoolboy spat between the billionaire team principals hasn’t brought the event into disrepute.

Despite the ‘unsportsmanlike’ line, the judge still ruled in favour or GGYC, effectively saying that the American Club doesn’t have to produce a Certificate until weeks before the race. Of course, no-one’s satisfied and no dount there will be more legal maneuvering before the February race date.

For what it’s worth, the two sides issued statements…they are… in alphabetical order, lest we be accused of favouring one side of the other….

GGYC Statement

San Diego, CA (September 22, 2009) – The Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (GGYC) position with regard to supplying the Custom House Registry (CHR) document has been vindicated by Justice Shirley Kornreich in the New York Supreme Court. Justice Kornreich says, in her decision of September 18, 2009 and issued today, that the CHR (or “COD” as it is now known) for GGYC’s yacht challenging for the 33rd America’s Cup need only be provided at least two weeks ahead of next February’s match.

Her decision also states that the Deed of Gift does not compel the challenger to obtain the COD within a specific period of time, and that a challenger may continue to make
modifications even after a CHR has been issued. “Issuance of the COD does not freeze the vessel in time,” Justice Kornreich wrote. GGYC spokesman Tom Ehman said, “The Swiss defender, Société Nautique de Genève, has failed to understand the simple reality that a vessel is not complete upon its launch but when sea trials have been completed and it is ready for hand-over to its owner.”

This, Justice Kornreich said in her decision, was explained clearly in evidence to the court submitted by Thomas L Willis, Director of the USCG’s National Vessel Documentation Center. She wrote, “The vessel of an America’s Cup challenger is by nature a yacht undergoing intense technological development.” GGYC’s racing team, BMW ORACLE Racing, currently has its yacht (known as the BOR90) out of the water and undergoing further modifications in San Diego as part of its continuing development process. “Under these circumstances the Court agrees that the vessel is not completed for the purposes of COD,” Justice Kornreich said.

“Super light construction and huge sail area mean that the BOR90 is one of, if not, the most extreme and powerful yachts to sail in 158-year history the America’s Cup. We are looking forward to February’s match with huge anticipation,” Ehman added.

SNG Statement

In her ruling relating to a hearing on 10 August, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich highlights “…the unsportsmanlike behavior of Golden Gate that has resulted in substantially reducing SNG’s (Société Nautique de Genève) advantage as originally contemplated by the Deed of Gift.”

The 33rd America’s Cup Defender, Société Nautique de Genève, had filed an Order to Show Cause in front of Justice Kornreich who, despite such an unprecedented statement describing the actions of GGYC, considers such “actions are not contrary to law” and is left with no option but to deny the motion. Justice Kornreich’s order also reiterates that the race shall be sailed under the rules and sailing regulations of the SNG.

SNG and its representing team Alinghi remain committed to a 33rd America’s Cup fought on the water in Ras al-Khaimah in February 2010.