An undignified response from ACM today, after the Golden Gate Yacht Club's shot across their bows yesterday. Sometimes it really is better to say nothing.
Here's one to start with. Michel Bonnefous claims the protocol is not "an attempt to control everything", although we've been offered no evidence to the contrary.
Interesting that there is no mention of the yacht club of convenience, Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV), in ACM's response, despite the CNEV's questionable status as a bone fide yacht club being one of the central tenets of the Americans' objections. You would have thought ACM might have taken this opportunity to leap to the Challenger of Record's defence. Because they're going to have to do that when they go to the New York Supreme Court. I hope BMW Oracle's lawyers have forgotten about that Optimist regatta from a couple of months back. Very embarrassing.
Also, an intriguing choice of words by Brad Butterworth in his concluding sentence, suggesting that BMW Oracle's "underhand tactics... shows disregards for all the legitimate competitors." Legitimate competitors. Hmmmm... Does this mean ACM will be invoking Clause 4.4 of the Protocol? "Acceptance of Challenging Competitors: ACM may, at its sole and entire discretion, accept or reject any entry received."
This is all getting very nasty. Can someone - maybe Peter Reggio, now that he's completed his tour of duty in Qingdao - organise a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors (sponsored by Louis Vuitton, for old time's sake) between Larry and Ernesto? It would save an awful lot of lawyers' fees, not to mention the dirty laundry that will be aired in public once this case hits New York.
Here's the ACM response in full:
The Société Nautique de Genève, Alinghi and America’s Cup Management are very disappointed that BMW Oracle Racing, through the Golden Gate Yacht Club, has followed through with its threat and officially filed legal proceedings in the New York Courts.
“ACM in good faith has proposed a protocol intended to advance the sport of America’s Cup sailing. Far from being an attempt to control everything, the new protocol has been written to make the 33rd America’s Cup even better: a new class of boat which brings the technology to state-of-the-art, exciting racing and an even higher profile and more professional event which befits the premier competition in sailing,“ said Michel Bonnefous, President ACM. “Our vision is to make the America’s Cup in 2009 comparable with the best sporting events in the World. This vision is shared by many Challengers from around the world, four of whom have now formally entered the competition, with others about to do so.
“Larry Ellison is holding the Cup to ransom for competitive gain by attempting to disrupt the preparations of the teams from Switzerland, Spain, South Africa, Great Britain and New Zealand, as well as many others who have notified of their intention to enter the competition shortly.”
“Ellison lost on the water in 2003 and in 2007, failing to secure a match for the America’s Cup,” said Brad Butterworth, Skipper, Alinghi, “He is now pretending to be the good guy, representing the interests of all stakeholders, whereas in reality they have gone to court to force an earlier private match on their terms without the involvement of other competitors.”
“While their legal teams are busy destabilising the 33rd Cup and the preparations of the existing challengers, they are simultaneously snapping up sailors left, right and centre. These underhand tactics make it particularly hard for the smaller teams who rely on sponsorship, which is very hard to secure under these circumstances, and shows disregard for all the legitimate competitors.”