Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

Rebuilding George Schuyler's Dream

by Richard Gladwell, nzeditor@sail-world.com on 15 Oct 2007
The flag has since been lowered over the Luna Rossa camp for the 33rd America’s Cup, at least. MCC McCamp

In a week, and for just the second time in its 150 year history, the America's Cup seems destined to enter the hallowed halls of the New York Supreme Court.

It is simplistic to portray this dispute as a battle between two belligerent billionaires. The situation has been brewing for some time and is created by an inherent weakness in the Deed of Gift.

Ever since Fremantle, the entrepreneurs of sailing have been keen to lift the America’s Cup to a higher level – similar to other sports which are controlled by a central body. The NRL (National Rugby League) is probably the closest example with a network of franchised teams, a pinnacle competition, and a governing body unafraid to act quickly (even mid-season) in the best interests of the competition.

Many have lobbied to have this style of competition created in the America's Cup. Inevitably it falls over in the transition from the current regatta to the dream game, because at some point the Defender has to give up the Defence rights – and to date this has never been a serious option for the Cup holder.

The way through this mire is the path adopted by Alinghi, where the Defender takes complete control of the event, bids the venue, and underwrites the financial risk. Good in theory.

In practice, this can only be done by selecting a very compliant club, establishing them as Challenger of Record, and then prescribing the rules and parameters for the event. Then it is up to other teams as to whether they wish to play. The conundrum is that the Defender must retain control, while still making the event attractive for the teams, particularly the established players, who come to the game with good competitive records, which add to the mana of the event.

In the journey for the 33rd America's Cup, Alinghi only got to first base - cementing a relationship with a compliant Challenger of Record. What they have been unable to do is create an event which is attractive to the established players.

Alinghi and their event management arm, America’s Cup Management, have been heavily criticised for the one sidedness of their approach with the 33rd America’s Cup, but it is minor league compared to what is possible under this approach.

For instance, the Challenger Selection Series could be set up so that the winner of the CSS competes for the right to sail against the Challenger of Record in the Final, with the winner sailing against the Defender in the Match for the America’s Cup. That would put a real bonus in the game for the Challenger of Record who would need to be in complete collusion with the Defender. Currently there is little point in being Challenger of Record. The role is very much a poisoned chalice, and is just clutter for a professional racing team focussed on winning.


The error that the Defender made with the 33rd America’s Cup was in dealing with a Challenger who does not meet the essential tests of the Deed of Gift. Had Alingi dealt with an established, but still very compliant yacht club, then the current action would almost certainly fail, or certainly have been a lot more difficult to win in Court.

On the arguments presented to date (and there can be no new material introduced at this point), Golden Gate YC should prevail in New York, primarily because the Club Nautico Espanol de Vela does not comply with the essential tests specified in the Deed of Gift. And, as a secondary argument there is the question of fiduciary responsibility of the current Defender as the trustee of the Deed of Gift.

The principle of Mutual Consent as the lifeblood of the Deed of Gift, should also be upheld by Justice Herman Cahn. However the inherent weakness in the Deed will still remain unless it is upheld that the Defender must act as required in the penultimate paragraph of the Deed of Gift.

Regardless of the outcome of the decision in New York, all parties should be looking beyond 22 October, and whoever 'wins' will have a massive recovery job on their hands. The 33rd Match for the America's Cup has been irretrievably damaged. There is little point in blamestorming the situation, or trying to determine fault.

The only way out, in the longer term, is for an amendment to the Deed to be enacted, enshrining a body like the Competitors Commission, which would operate under Mutual consent in an equal decision making relationship with the Defender and Challenger(s). The right of the Defender to choose the venue would remain its property as the winner.


Everyone is agreed on the goal or future shape of the America's Cup, which is that it should be the premier sailing event in the world. The difficulty lies in the means by which this is achieved.

Maybe Justice Cahn’s decision will provide a clear direction. Or maybe the parties will have to hang up their self-interest outside the negotiating room door, and instead talk of what is in the best interest of the event, and sport, consistent with George Schuyler’s great dream of 150 or so years ago.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor.


Got a view on what should happen with the America's Cup to avoid another brouhaha? Click here: nzeditor@sail-world.com to send your comments and ideas for posting our America's Cup Email-bag

This article originally appeared as part of an Editorial in Sail-World's NZ newsletter. To subscribe to Sail-World.com's New Zealand FREE newsletter with the latest updates from the New Zealand and international sailing scene, click here: www.sail-world.com/subscription

Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82Wildwind 2016 660x82Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best Eyewear

Related Articles

Brawn v Brain? The Bar or The Room?
Interesting questions and can they possibly be linked in any way. Interesting questions and can they possibly be linked in any way. Is it just the one connection, or could there indeed be several ways to address this conundrum? Well the route of the answer could be SailX, the online inshore racing game.
Posted on 7 Jul
Practice makes perfect?
There are a lot of us who try to get out on the water whenever we can. There are a lot of us who try to get out on the water whenever we can - be it a club race, a weekend open or a championship. The general feeling is that the more we sail, the better we get, but is that actually the case?
Posted on 27 May
America's Cup- The End of the Beginning
We are now in the Year of Cup - in fact, in just over five months, the first racing will be under way in the Louis Vuitt We are now in the Year of Cup - in fact, in just over five months, the first racing will be under way in the Louis Vuitton Cup. The end of January also marks the end of the first limited sailing period - where test sailing and racing by the AC72's is limited to just 30 days.
Posted on 30 Jan 2013
Melges 24 World Championship victory to Uka Uka Racing
Melges 24 World Championship’s final day in Corpus Christi, Texas saw the regatta saw a close with some thrilling racing Melges 24 World Championship’s final day in Corpus Christi, Texas, saw the regatta saw a close with some thrilling racing action out on the water.
Posted on 22 May 2011
Melges 24 World Championship - Showdown for the podium
Melges 24 World Championship’s international fleet is currently competing on day five of the event in Corpus Christi. Melges 24 World Championship’s international fleet is currently competing at the 2011 event in Corpus Christi, Texas and enjoying two more breezy races on day five of the regatta.
Posted on 21 May 2011
Melges 24 World Championship battle for second
Melges 24 World Championship 2011 in Corpus Christi, Texas day four. Melges 24 World Championship 2011 in Corpus Christi, Texas day four. Brian Porter on USA 749 Full Throttle turned in a 6,4, scoreline today, which was good enough to move him into second place overall.
Posted on 20 May 2011
Melges 24 World Championship 2011 day three - Leader extends
Melges 24 World Championship 2011 in Corpus Christi, Texas reached its midpoint today. Melges 24 World Championship 2011 in Corpus Christi, Texas reached its midpoint today. Race 5 started bang on time on in a solid 15 knots of breeze. The fleet got away to a clean start at the first time of asking, with the boats quickly splitting into two distinct groups on either side of the first beat.
Posted on 19 May 2011
Melges 24 World Championship day 2 and a new leader
2011 Melges 24 World Championship is underway in Corpus Christi, Texas. The event continues until Saturday May 21st Day two of the 2011 Melges 24 Worlds in Corpus Christi, Texas delivered two spectacular races sailed in near perfect conditions, under crystal clear skies and in a solid breeze which built from 15 up to around 19 knots throughout the day.
Posted on 18 May 2011
Melges 24 World Championship 2011 day one + Rick Tomlinson images
Melges 24 World Championship 2011 day one in Corpus Christi, Texas, saw two closely fought races completed Melges 24 World Championship 2011 day one in Corpus Christi, Texas, saw two closely fought races completed in sparkling conditions. The expectation was always for light to medium conditions to prevail on the first day and race one was started in an unstable eight - ten knots of breeze, with direction swings of up to twenty degrees.
Posted on 17 May 2011
Melges 24 Pre-Worlds win to Melleby on Full Medal Jacket + images
The Melges 24 World Championship will take place at the Corpus Christi Yacht Club from May 11 to 21. The Melges 24 World Championship will take place at the Corpus Christi Yacht Club from May 11 to 21. Soling Olympian and America's Cup sailor Espen Stokkeland, tactician aboard Full Medal Jacket, said that the Norwegian team were looking forward to the coming week.
Posted on 16 May 2011