Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Bertarelli Clarifies 33rd Protocol - slightly

At this afternoon's ACM press conference to announce Valencia as the official host of the 33rd America's Cup, Alinghi & ACM's Ernesto Bertarelli clarified his view of events surrounding the 33rd Protocol.

He defined Valencia as a fantastic venue; subject to ACM's final decision, the 33rd Cup would be raced on the same North & South courses.

Regattas would take place in Valencia in Spring 2008, with a further one in Autumn 2008, at a venue yet to be determined by ACM, but guaranteed to be in Europe. Challenger selection would begin in 2009.

The new class of boat would be decided by October 2007; under ACM jurisdiction, consultation would take place with all challengers during September 2007 to define the boat's specification.

Teams will be allowed to build 2 vessels, but never to allow more than one on the water. Challengers will not line up on the water against any similar vessel until the challenger series. The rule applies equally to Alinghi, therefore Alinghi must meet competitors in the Challenger series, but would not proceed through to the challenger series final, and if beaten, they would lose their right to compete (though not clarified, presumably in further challenger matches, not the cup itself!). An independent nomination panel and jury would oversee all arrangements.

Bertarelli then went on to address the challenge from Larry Ellison and BMW Oracle Racing, who he explained that 'having failed to win on the water twice, failing to do better than 5th in the last series, have decided to bring the racing to court, to do what they could not do on the water, to win'.

The challenge posted to SNG indicated Oracle's intention to race exclusively in 90' multihulls; 'this is unacceptable' he explained, indicating that this 'damaging issue' had been passed to the independent America's Cup adjudication panel. He went on to explain that 'Ellison wishes to make this as expensive as possible, launching a costly and expensive campaign against Desfio Espanol and Alinghi, and a costly lawsuit in New York; he explained he knew litigation, and that 'no matter who wins, everybody loses money'. He criticised Ellison for pressing ahead with a costly multihull building program for 2008, while complaining that the ACM had not allowed enough time in the 33rd Protocol for challengers to prepare 90' boats for 2009. He characterised Ellison as having 'created uncertainty and damaging the America's Cup brand'.

Asked later during Q&A whether BMW Oracle racing would be allowed to compete should Ellison lose in court, Bertarelli explained, 'We're not lawyers, we're sailors, we're not corporate raiders', and responded, 'Today is a fantastic day about sport. We do not need this kind of, excuse me, bullshit'.

Lady mayoress of Valencia, Rita Barbera had earlier invited Ellison and his team to drop their litigation and enjoy the hospitality of Valencia.

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