Tuesday, 4 September 2007

TEAMORIGIN Respond to Controversy Surrounding 33rd Protocol

Following recent developments concerning the Protocol released for the 33rd America's Cup and the resulting legal action taken, The Afterguard (no doubt amongst many others) approached the newest officially recognised America's Cup team for their feelings on the situation and the role that The Royal Thames Yacht club might have played in negotiations. We are extremely grateful to the team who have made the following statement public, reproduced in full, in response. We will return in due course with further analysis of the situation but wished to bring the statement to public attention as soon as possible.

This statement may also be read in full, on TEAMORIGIN's website, here.


TEAMORIGIN is to open the Southampton Boat Show and present team members next week. Beforehand, it takes the opportunity to state its position on the Challenger of Record question.

Sir Keith Mills and Mike Sanderson, Team Principal and Team Director respectively of TEAMORIGIN, Britain’s challenge for the 33rd America’s Cup, will officially open the Southampton International Boat Show at 11:00 on Friday 14th September. Following the ‘Opening’ formalities TEAMORIGIN will present key new additions to sailing, shore and design teams.

Before this important milestone TEAMORIGIN considered it important to put on the record why it has challenged under what one prospective team has called an invalid Protocol.

A combination of ingredients including Britain’s current depth of talent in all areas of competition sailing and the AC Management (ACM) model of a commercially viable America’s Cup event format means that a unique opportunity for a British challenge to be successful at this level has been created.

“ACM ran a fantastic event this Spring, not only from a sports and entertainment point of view but also by setting the standards on a number of non-sports aspects placing the America’s Cup firmly in the 21st century, in amongst the most important sporting competitions in the world today. Alinghi and ACM should be complimented on running an event in Valencia that has had a massively positive impact not only on the America’s Cup but the sport of sailing as a whole,” comments Sir Keith Mills.

With Alinghi’s victory in July a new Challenger of Record (COR), the Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV), was announced and a Protocol governing the 33rd America’s Cup published. The contents came as a bit of a shock for some potential challengers but for TEAMORIGIN it was a clear statement of intent about ACM’s continuing modernisation of the America’s Cup.

“We do not believe that the new Protocol will have a negative impact on the future of the America’s Cup. To the contrary we believe it provides a platform for further growth and some real opportunities for those who decide to challenge,” continues Sir Keith.

TEAMORIGIN believes the Protocol is good for challengers, especially new teams because:

  • Of the introduction of a new America’s Cup Class, a new 90 ft yacht, giving every challenger an equal opportunity to start the design process at the same time.
  • It prohibits two-boat testing which will reduce costs. New techniques will be developed to refine existing and new yachts, opening up a level playing field for new challengers.
  • It allows for regular official racing to be run in Valencia. Teams may race their opponents in practice whilst simultaneously running parallel hospitality and sponsor programmes.

TEAMORIGIN and the Royal Thames Yacht Club were therefore pleased and confident in becoming a strong challenger and sporting example during the 33rd America’s Cup, and officially challenged Defender Alinghi’s club, the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), on 23rd July.

TEAMORIGIN is now one of four challengers having joined the Spanish Desafio Español (COR), Team Shosholoza of South Africa and Emirates Team New Zealand.

In all of TEAMORIGIN’s dealings with ACM the event authority has acted quickly and constructively. In particular it:

  • Announced the Host City as Valencia within three weeks of becoming the organising authority and set the date for the 33rd America’s Cup for July 2009.
  • Invited challengers to participate in a series of meetings to define the new Class Rule, the first of which will be held in mid-September with the final rule being published by 31st October.
  • Put in place the three-member Arbitration Panel, two members of which were members of the International Jury of the 32nd America’s Cup.

Unfortunately in late July the GGYC, a challenger of the 31st and 32nd America’s Cup represented by BMW Oracle Racing, disputed the legitimacy of the CNEV’s status as a bone fide yacht club as defined in the America’s Cup Deed of Gift and as a result filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court.

TEAMORIGIN’s position on this is clear. The elements specifically defining a yacht club’s status according to the Deed of Gift are clearly stated: “Any organized Yacht Club of a foreign country, incorporated, patented, or licensed by the legislature, admiralty, or other executive department, having for its annual regatta an ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea, or one which combines both, shall always be entitled to the right of sailing a match of this Cup…”.

The CNEV is recognised by the Real Federación Español de Vela, the Royal Spanish Sailing Federation (RFEV) and that club will hold a regatta on the sea before the end of 2007.

TEAMORIGIN therefore recognises the legitimacy of the COR and hence the Protocol and is mounting its challenge operations for the 33rd America’s Cup based on this Protocol.

“We accept the validity of the Protocol and believe that it fundamentally allows challenging teams a fair opportunity to compete in the America’s Cup. I urge the GGYC and BMW Oracle Racing to withdraw their lawsuits and spurious challenge, which can only damage the reputation of the America’s Cup. I would like to see BMW Oracle submit a proper challenge alongside the four teams that have already challenged so that we can start competing on the water not the court room,” concludes Sir Keith.


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