Thursday, 12 July 2007

Challenge to AC33 Protocol - Let Battle Commence

The Golden Gate Yacht Club challenges the 33rd America's Cup Protocol.

In what has either marred or added interest to (depending on viewpoint) recent America's Cup competition, a not unexpected challenge has been issued in respect of the contents of the recently published 'Protocol Governing The Thirty Third America’s Cup' (we previously covered the news here).

In a series of documents detailed here, the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC - represented by BMW Oracle Racing) yesterday wrote to Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG - represented by holders Alinghi), claiming that the content of the Protocol issued was in fact invalid, for the following reasons:

  • The declaration of Club Nautico Espanol de Vela (CNEV - apologies, we can find no website for the club - represented by Desafio Espanol) as Challenger Of Record (COR) is invalid as CNEV is not a bona fide yacht club, effectively only been recently formed for the specific purpose of application as COR.
  • CNEV has never held a regatta - a requirement in the Deed of Gift (the document defining the regulations under which the America's Cup takes place).
  • CNEV, in becoming COR, has delegated all setting of racing regulations for the 33rd Cup to SNG, at least breaching the spirit of the Deed of Gift in it's requirement that competition should be fair (our interpretation).
Accompanying the letter challenging the 33rd Protocol, GGYC also enclosed their own, 'bona fide' (their words) challenge - presented with 'much pleasure' no less - demanding recognition as legitimate COR.

Most notably, it also cautions that should SNG and they as COR fail to mutually agree upon a new protocol, then the next America's Cup should be undertaken in accordance with the Deeds of Gift, without further influence from the current holders. Amongst other matters, this defines the next match to commence in ten months time, and that the challenger shall have influence over choice of vessel!

It is widely held that the current 33rd AC Protocol is designed to give SNG's Alinghi the maximum competitive advantage over all other challengers, and many consider this as unsporting.

No doubt, a number of other clubs will have made application prior to GGYC's submission dated 11/7/07 - including TeamOrigin's Royal Thames Yacht Club (rumoured to have negotiated to be recognised as COR if Emirates Team New Zealand had won the cup, and to have covered the issue with Alinghi when purchasing the boat SUI 75). We can't imagine, therefore, that if the issued Protocol is torn up, BMW Oracle Racing would ever be seen as COR - unless any team challenging the selection of COR by the cup holder automatically has the right to be COR if successful in that challenge (sorry, we just don't know).

The 'sailing' part of the America's Cup has just ended, and now begins the 'handbags at dawn' component of Sailing's greatest prize.

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