Thursday, 12 July 2007

That’s not a Challenge. This is a Challenge. In 90-ft Multihulls!

The Golden Gate Yacht Club has counter challenged the Spanish Challenge of Record, claiming the Club Nautico Espanol de Vela’s challenge to Alinghi is illegal.

I don’t know if the Spanish challenge is illegal or not – I’ll leave that argument to the laywers - but it was certainly spineless. By accepting the one-sided Protocol laid down by Alinghi last week, Desafio Espanol has effectively admitted that it has no real desire to win the 33rd America’s Cup. It is merely happy to be a participant, whilst handing Alinghi the tools for a 5-0 whitewash.

The Spanish team is to be applauded for having reached the Semi Finals of the recent Louis Vuitton Cup, but it appears that is the limit of its competitive instincts. In its desire to keep the Cup in Valencia it seems Desafio Espanol was prepared to sign almost anything that Alinghi demanded. The Spanish have sold the challengers down the river.

Today, BMW Oracle’s home club in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, sent its counter-challenge to the Societe Nautique de Geneve. The GGYC commodore Marcus Young wrote: “We respectfully submit that the challenge is invalid. Among other deficiencies, it is not from a bone fide yacht club, but from an entity organized in the form of a yacht club only a few days before the challenge was accepted by SNG and which has never had an annual regatta on an open water course on the sea or an arm of the sea as required by the Deed of Gift.

“It is also apparent that this ‘Challenger of Record’ has not performed any of the duties of the Challenger as contemplated by the Deed of Gift, but has simply delegated to the Defender the authority to determine all of the ‘conditions’ governing the match. This undermines the fundamental purpose of the Deed of Gift to preserve this competition as a Challenge Cup.”

And here’s the fun part.

The dates: “We name 4 July 2008 as the date of the first race, 6 July 2008 and 8 July 2008 as the dates for the second and, if necessary, third races.”

And here are the vital statistics for the boat:

Rig: single-masted, sloop-rigged


Length on Load Waterline – 90 feet

Beam at Load Waterline – 90 feet

Extreme Beam – 90 feet

Draught of water (hull draft) – 3 feet

Draught of water (boards down) – 20 feet

So, a 90-foot catamaran perhaps, or a 90-foot trimaran, or what about a 90-foot skiff with trapeze wings spanning 90-feet from side to side? To be held somewhere in the northern hemisphere in just less than a year.

Plainly the proposal is ludicrous, but in so doing the GGYC has highlighted just how ludicrous some elements of the original Protocol document are. Take, for example, the fact that the Defender has granted itself the right to compete in every stage of the Challenger series, with the exception of the finals. Oh right, OK, so with the one-boat rule that is being mooted, that would mean the challengers’ boats are committed to three months of hard racing, with no opportunity for testing or development. Meanwhile the Defender is free to compete for a few races, assess relative speed against the challengers, then withdraw for a spot of chainsaw surgery and then enter a later stage of the Challenger series a couple of weeks further down the line. Rinse and repeat until boat is faster. How very convenient.

The Club Nautico Espanol de Vela was quick to issue a rebuttal to the GGYC’s shot across their bow, protesting the validity of the original challenge, and assuring everyone that the Protocol guarantees a fair fight for one and all. With thanks to James Boyd’s translation of the original Spanish text on The Daily Sail: “We want to emphasise that the spirit which has presided over the negotiations with the Defender on the part of the CNEV has been one to create a transparent competition that is right and equitable for all the participants and for which joint instruments of management have been created which we hope contribute to a greater agility and effectiveness in the development of the next event.”

Phew, that’s a relief. Back to your beds and rest easy. The Spanish have got it under control. “Thanks for your concern, GGYC, but we’ll take it from here.”


Anonymous said...

Excellent piece. From what else I have read, Andy you hit the nail squarely on the head. Especially the last paragraph. What wankers the Spanish are. Taken to the cleaners and hung out to dry by Ernesto! No wonder all the other challengers are applauding Larry, as well as virtually all of the media.

Valencian Sailor said...

Completely agree with you anonymous!
Let's go all to San Francisco!!

Mike Simpson said...

... and all these boats are going to be ready in less than 12 months!!!!!

That doesn't allow much time for all the arguing!

Bob Bigelow said...

Oh my, egos are dangerous things, especially when they land in the hands of the losers...

All of us know how important the rules are in sailboat racing, and those of us who know how to win, also know how to win at a protest meeting. But Mr Ellison's burning desire to hold the America's Cup over his head, will not be satisfied by doing what Americans always seem to try when all else fails, going to court.

For those of us who love sailboat racing, it is obvious that Mr Bertarelli has done more for our sport than the Americas Cup itself. He has taken it from some complicated insider event to a spectacle appreciated by literally millions and millions around the world, most non-sailors. Never before has there been so much interest in sailboat racing, thanks to Mr B.

Who cares if the challenge is legitimate? Who cares if Valencia is the perfect venue? Who cares if Alinghi milks the most out of the challenge? Who cares who wins? None of us are going to be racing on those boats, but we are going to profit immensely if the sport's popularity continues to grow as it has over the past year or two.

Wake-up kiddies, realize what YOU can get out of this. Mr Ellison is, sadly enough, nothing but one of the many losers in this Cup. He should finally accept his defeat and realize that if he wants more to say in this whole thing, he first must learn how to make his boat sail faster.

Happy Sailing,

Bob Bigelow
An American in Solothurn Switzerland