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Inclusive process sought to resolve America's Cup

by Jane Eagleson, BMW Oracle Racing Media on 25 Oct 2008
Golden Gate Yacht Club
The Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) today released a letter sent last week from Larry Ellison to Ernesto Bertarelli proposing a framework to modernize the America’s Cup by mutual consent, reduce costs, and get the maximum number of teams back on the water for the 33rd edition as soon as possible, under fair rules similar to those that governed the highly successful event in 2007.

The letter, dated October 17th, states, 'I support modernizing the Cup to the extent possible under the current Deed of Gift … [and] I think some of your re-structuring ideas have merit. But those will take time to develop and implement, and in the meantime we need to focus on solutions to get the America’s Cup back on the water as soon as possible.

We also should not attempt to change 157 years of history and tradition overnight, without carefully considering all the ramifications of such changes and consulting with the important stakeholders.'

The letter reiterates GGYC’s September 23rd offer to end the legal battle over the next America’s Cup if Bertarelli’s Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) agrees to stage the 33rd America’s Cup as a conventional, multiple challenger regatta under fair rules similar to those that governed the event in 2007. Assuming Bertarelli drops such unfair conditions as insisting that the judges and other race officials be employed by an organization that he controls, Ellison states that he would support Bertarelli’s proposal to limit each team to one boat, along with 'any other sensible cost cutting measures.'

The letter further says that GGYC would agree to allow the Defender to race in the Challenger Selection Series with certain limitations, would be open to a 2010 date, and would consider using the ACC V5 class one more time, with each team limited to building only one new boat. Ellison wrote, 'Obviously, this would be the least expensive and fastest way of getting the maximum number of teams back in the competition.'

Ellison proposes meetings of all the Cup stakeholders to resolve boat design and other issues, and to agree by mutual consent on an appropriate date. He urges Bertarelli to 'get the teams together around one table as soon as possible' and make decisions 'in an open, transparent and democratic process.' Ellison also praises the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series as an 'excellent and cost effective way to get the Cup teams back on the water,' and he proposes that the LVPS format 'be extended to include other similar regattas in other parts of the world, hosted by other Cup teams such as Emirates Team New Zealand is doing in Auckland.'

This could lead to a full 2009-2011 calendar of world-class regattas that would benefit the entire sailing community by providing a consistent commercial return for the teams. All Stakeholders Must Be Involved in AC33 Discussions GGYC spokesman Tom Ehman said Ellison’s letter was sent last week, and there had been no reply. He said the letter was being released in response to this week’s announcement by Alinghi of their intention to try and push forward with AC33 with rules heavily skewed in favor of the defender.

'We remain ready and willing to reach a settlement outside of court based on rules similar to those used in the highly successful AC32,' Ehman said. 'But, as Larry proposed in his letter, all key stakeholders must be involved in meaningful discussions about what AC33 is going to look like. We’re confident the Challengers as a group would be flexible on many details and could quickly reach mutual consent with the Defender.

That’s the fastest and best way to end the litigation and get the America’s Cup back on course.

'It is surprising that SNG – as a trustee of the America’s Cup – would allow Alinghi and AC Management to set another entry deadline for mid-December, given that the New York courts will not rule on the pending litigation until next year. It’s time Alinghi stops trying to dictate the rules and sits down with all viable Challengers in a sincere effort to reach mutual consent on the date, format, class of yacht and other key rules.'
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