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Dalton confirms America's Cup claim on Alinghi

by Richard Gladwell on 2 Dec 2007
Grant Dalton speaking at the Emirates Team NZ Media Conference earlier this week © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director, Grant Dalton, has confirmed a report that appeared yesterday in the British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph.

The story by noted yachting writer, Tim Jeffrey, did not name a source for the information, but claimed that Emirates Team New Zealand had sent Alinghi team boss, Ernesto Bertarelli, a claim for compensation of NZD32million if the 33rd America's Cup were postponed to 2010, and a total claim for NZD50million if the event was transferred to 2011.

It was reported that the claim arose from a breach of agreement struck when Emirates Team New Zealand controversarily entered the 33rd America's Cup in an announcement on 25th July 2007.

The entry of the 2007 America's Cup Challenger came after protracted negotiations bewteen the Defender and then Pretender, BMW Oracle Racing. It was believed at the time that Emirates Team New Zealand Grant Dalton had driven a hard bargain with Ernesto Bertarelli, obtaining a number of undisclosed concessions.

Emirates Team New Zealand's entry, in turn, added a lot of credibilty to Alinghi's position in the stand-off with Golden Gate YC, and they were frequently quoted as a credible challenger who had accepted the conditions set by Societe Nautique de Geneve in their Protocol for the 33rd America's Cup.

Many believed that Emirates Team New Zealand's entry had protracted the dispute, and that a refusal by all substantial Challengers to enter the 33rd America's Cup would forestall the action in the New York Supreme Court - forcing an early negotiation.

The dispute was only resolved, to some extent, on Wednesday (NZT) when Justice Herman Cahn issued his decision in the New York Supreme Court on the legitimacy of the Challenger of Record, Club Nautico Espanol de Vela. Finding against the fledgling Spanish yacht club, Cahn ruled that Golden Gate YC was the new Challenger of Record. However Societe Nautique de Geneve, had pre-empted the Court decision, by announcing the postponement of the 33rd America's Cup to an indeterminate time.

It was this decision by SNG, Alinghi and ACM, which triggered the substantial claim by Emirates Team New Zealand.

The Telegraph reported that the other concessions gained by Dalton included a payment holiday on the NZD100,000 entry fee, and first right of refusal on the BMW Oracle Racing base in Valencia.

After a call by Sail-World, Emirates Team New Zealand issued a statement where Grant Dalton commented on the Daily Telegraph report:

'The report in the Telegraph is substantially true.

'Before Emirates Team New Zealand entered the 2009 America’s Cup we sought from Ernesto Bertarelli the security of a side agreement that the event would indeed be held in 2009.

'Bertarelli was adamant the Cup regatta would go ahead as scheduled and entered into a binding agreement on July 25 2007.

'Emirates Team New Zealand entered into the agreement in good faith. The contract provided the assurance we needed to plan for 2009. For Ernesto Bertarelli the agreement with Emirates Team New Zealand ensured another entry for 2009.

'On November 22 2007 AC Management announced that the America’s Cup had been postponed.

'All challengers including Oracle are still adamant they want an event in 2009. This can be achieved easily now as a result of the New York Supreme court decision in favour of Oracle. The decision allows for a mutually agreed document as the basis of the next America’s Cup.

'Such a document has already been formulated between Oracle and the challengers.

'None of the nine points in this document can be construed as onerous for Alinghi.

'As far as Emirates Team New Zealand is concerned the agreement entered into is a simple contract. Therefore we are surprised that Alinghi has seen fit to put this letter in the public domain', the statement concluded.

As it stands, the America's Cup is still on hold, with no negotiations completed between the Challenger of Record and Defender, as to the Match date and conditions.

With this process still in limbo, and with time ticking away, it would seem that the claim by Emirates Team New Zealand would have the effect of adding further pressure to achieve an America's Cup Match taking place in July 2009, preceded by a full Challenger Selection Series, as originally planned.
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