Friday, 3 August 2007

Mascalzone Breaks Silence Over 33rd Protocol

Striking a very concilatory tone, Vincenzo Onorato of Mascalzone Latino has today broken the team's silence over the issues surrounding the 33rd Protocol.

Italian site Sport Economy carries a statement from Vincenzo, an English translation of which is carried on Network & BYM reproduced below. Mr Onorato seems to speak a lot of sense at a time when passions are inflamed, and we can only hope that the protagonists have the ability to step back and consider the logical and sensible proposal for getting all concerned back to the negotiating table.

Thoughts on America’s Cup XXXIII – and our proposal

On the sport side all wish and expect to be part of an event in which winning has a lot of value through strong, tough but ultimately fair-play-based competition.

On a commercial side we all expect and wish to have a credible and sellable event in which the sponsor would have their visibility and good chances to have their teams successfully compete.

Both the prospective and the current AC 33 Challengers need to look for sponsors. To our knowledge few, if any , of the challengers recently accepted by SNG do not have yet even the start up funds.

The “Class Rule” of the next event and the unilaterally-appointed race management and dispute resolution provisions are the critical points of objection to the current Protocol, which has already received a lot of criticism since its publication.

We believe that an America’s Cup in which the Challengers would know from the Defender (without previous Challenger involvement) the new class rules only 18 months before the event would not be a competitive regatta, nor would be credible or sellable. We should count at minimum 8-9 months of design work, 8-9 months, if not more, in case of two yachts, for the construction. Challengers would not even have enough time to test the new yachts on-the-water. When the new class of yacht was created in 1988, all competitors had more then 3 years to prepare.

We understand Alinghi’s wish to play its role as the Defender, and its desire of evolving the event with a new class of yachts.

We understand Oracle’s position that ultimately it is playing the role of a Challenger, and wishes to make the game more accessible and equitable for the challengers.

In the existing conflicting positions between SNG/Alinghi and GGYC/Oracle, all other teams should try to contribute in resolving this impasse.

We therefore urge SNG/Alinghi to reopen the discussion on the AC XXXIII Protocol on the following basis, provided that AC 33 will be in Valencia in 2009, May-July as announced:

- Use V5 America’s Cup yachts, with each team permitted to build one new yacht and modify one old yacht up to 50%.

- All AC 33 competitors agree, by entering AC 32, that in case of winning AC 33 they will use the new Alinghi 90' design in AC 34, with the final rule to be worked out between Alinghi and the CC (which would of course include the current COR) in the meantime, and starting now.

- The Protocol be substantially the same as AC 32, but with changes to be negotiated by SNG/Alinghi with the Challenger Commission. The revision of the Protocol should particularly solve the area of most concern of the recent adopted Protocol: SNG’s unilateral ability, through ACM, to disqualify a challenging team, in particular for disputing any provision in the Protocol; ACM’s ability to accept not all otherwise valid challengers, ACM’s ability to unilaterally reject a challenging team; appointment of the arbitration panel and jury by the Defender and COR only and their ability to dismiss the members of the panel and jury at will; ACM’s exclusive power to appoint race committee, measurement committee, umpires and any other event officials; ACM’s powers and rights which far exceed the position of any Defender in the past, including the power to impose a penalty to competitors; ACM’s power to “unilaterally” establish the rules for the all the events, including the Challenger Selection Series, the lack of any accountability by either ACM or COR to the challengers and the absence of any requirement of neutral management, the participation of the Defender in the CSS.

The execution of a revised Protocol with these provisions should then convince GGYC to withdraw the Court actions, and it would attract more sponsors and, therefore, more teams to the event.

Vincenzo Onorato, Mascalzone Latino. August 3rd, 2007.


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