Diary Opening February 8th. Racing Anyone?

Our little holiday included a holiday from the America’s Cup. After the smiles and hugs on a stage in Monaco, GGYC and BMW ORACLE’s gift of goodwill to men was a letter the the Swiss defender serving notice that the American team believed the Alinghi catamaran to be illegal according to yet another arcane stipulation of the Deed of Gift.

According to GGYC in a handy ‘DOG for Dummies’ addition to their press release, the Deed of Gift requires…

“…a yacht or vessel propelled by sails only and constructed in the country to which the Challenging Club belongs, against any one yacht or vessel constructed in the country of the Club holding the Cup.”

GGYC also believes that historically, “yacht or vessel” has always included the hull, appendages, rig and sails.

It’s almost a year (around March 2009) since we first heard of a potential challenge to the 3DL sails that Alinghi were using. The technology used by North Sails to produce these highly sophisticated pieces of equipment requires certain weather conditions and the only place they are manufactured is Nevada, USA.

The American club signalled that it may use this off-the-water objection back in July, included in a long laundry list of complaints that the GGYC had with Alinghi. One by one, BMW ORACLE have worked through this list of reasons why there can’t be a race sailed in February 2010.

The latest nit-picking over the DOG has the potential to delay the race again. One outcome of a planned meeting may be to allow Alinghi time to construct sails in Switzerland, however this would cause further frustration with the rest of the sailing world, many of whom are waiting for AC33 to be over and done with quickly so the sport can move on. The latest statement by GGYC includes a rare admission that the behaviour of the challenger and defender is pushing the limits of goodwill from the sailing community. Tom Ehman says:

“We don’t think the sailing world would tolerate the two teams failing to sort this out…”

He doesn’t say what remedy the sailing world might have – probably because there is not much the sport can do – and both sides know it, else they might have considered the sailing world a long time ago.

Of course there is always Ehman’s favourite two words; Mutual Consent – but at this stage, it seems highly unlikely that the teams can agree on anything, despite the public lovefest between Coutts and Butterworth at the World Yacht Racing Forum.

According to a quick word-count, the Deed of Gift contains 1280 words. Using the New York Court system, there is not enough time before the sun explodes to analyse every single one of them and its intent. GGYC would prefer that the newly appointed Jury make the decision. The ‘five wise men’ have shown that they can come to conclusions far more quickly than the New York Courts can.

And so, the fans and the sport continue to be stuffed around. Those who have booked flights and hotel rooms to be in Valencia on the 8th of February may have to find something else to do in the Spanish winter rather than watch America’s Cup racing.