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Swiss will race America's Cup in Ras al-Khaimah if Appeal successful

by Richard Gladwell on 16 Nov 2009
Alinghi press conference in Ras Al Khaimah, preferred venue of 33rd America’s Cup. Sheikh Omar Bin Saqr Al Qasimi and Ernesto Bertarelli Guido Trombetta/Team Alinghi

The current Defender of the America's Cup, Societe Nautique de Geneve, today revealed that it wants to return to race in Ras al-Khaimah (UAE) to contest the 33rd America's Cup in giant multihulls.

Far from trying to get the heat turned down on the legal action, the Swiss club have appointed a new firm of lawyers to represent them on the various actions, engaging Sullivan & Cromwell, their third in two years of litigation.

The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court today received the arguments from the Swiss club and advised that they would not be hearing oral arguments, and would make a decision on the papers alone.

Key points in the papers filed today by SNG related to argument that the rudders should be included in the measurement of the Load Waterline Length - a move that could have see the US Challenger from Golden Gate Yacht Club disqualified for exceeding the 90ft maximum stipulated in the Deed of Gift for the America's Cup.

Arguing that they had no choice but to name Valencia as venue in their Notice of Race issued on 6 November 2009, as that was the 'only permissible Northern Hemisphere venue under Justice Kornreich's erroneous October 30 order'

The SNG response continues 'If this Court, as it should, vindicates SNG’s legal right under the April 7 Order, and reverses the October 30 Order, then SNG will contest the Cup in RAK – a more temperate venue for a sailing race in February than Valencia.'

'Put simply, if the lower court’s ruling stands, SNG has lost its right to choose RAK as the venue for the 33rd America’s Cup. That loss would be particularly consequential here because RAK offers 'perfect weather and great sailing conditions in February,' making RAK a more suitable winter venue than Valencia for the world’s most famous sailing races.'

This response is quite contrary to the belief in yachting circles that the America's Cup was certain for Valencia, Spain starting on 8 February 2010. To date there has been no announcement of any hosting agreement with Valencia, although it is believed that some discussions have taken place.

Team Alinghi are still training in preferred venue of Ras al-Khaimah, and given the lack of a requirement for an oral hearing, it would seem that a decision will be forthcoming earlier than expected from the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court.

While many on the America's Cup sidelines believe the SNG argument will not be upheld by the Appellate Division, the club did win its major legal victory in the two year saga of litigation in this Court - a majority decision which was overturned 6-0 in the Court of Appeal in Albany.

If SNG wins again in the Appellate Division, then an Appeal is almost certain by Golden Gate YC, as happened in their action over the legitimacy of Club Nautico Espanol de Vela as the original Challenger (of Record) for the 33rd Match.

While the bets are probably only going to be on one horse in this legal race, the stakes are high for the 20 other teams whop entered the Multi Challenger version of the 33rd America's Cup. The remainder of the yachting world wishes to see and end to the litigation, for the event to be sailed and a clean winner found. The new Defender can then get on with the organisation of the 34th Match, which at this juncture can still be sailed in July/August 2011.

However if there is any delay to the staging of the 33rd America's Cup, then the 2011 date would not be achievable. The next window for an event is in almost four years time 2013, given that 2012 is Olympic year, for a European based Olympics, and would clash with the America's Cup.

That in turn would mean a six year gap between America's Cups and would probably put many of the professional teams out of business, as the current competition models are not believed to be financially sustainable for an America's Cup professional team that does not have an America's Cup in which to compete and provide an investment proposition and return to sponsors.

The compromise offer, was made by SNG in their media release announcing Valencia as the 'venue' on 10 November which read: 'While SNG confirms Valencia as the venue for the 33rd America’s Cup in February 2010, the offer to GGYC of an Australian venue for the same date remains on the table until 13 November 2009 provided GGYC agrees to withdraw all legal actions.'

It is believed that Golden Gate Yacht Club have responded very favourably to this initiative, however there has been no announcement of its acceptance by the Defending club.

Significantly in his annual Repport to the Council of the International Sailing Federation, the President, Goran Petersson (SWE) made no mention at all of the America's Cup crisis. To read the full text of that address http://www.sailing.org/meetings/30269.php!click_here

To read the full submission from Societe Nautique de Geneve http://www.sail-world.com/pdf/SNG-131109.pdf!click_here

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