That’s the short version of a peace offering made by Alinghi yesterday. If you want to read the long version from Alinghi, it’s published below.
This is a massive climb down from the Defender’s original position. Clearly the prospect of going to the New York Supreme Court in just less than a month is getting a little too real for comfort.
So thankfully, sense has finally prevailed. Alinghi have backed down in a number of key areas. Though it seems none will ever be brave enough to say it in public, the other ‘legitimate’ challengers have a good deal to thank Larry and the Golden Gate Yacht Club for, in helping to get the 33rd Cup back on track as a true sporting contest.
While questions remain over the CNEV’s legitimacy as a true Challenger of Record (one of the GGYC’s primary objections), I hope Larry and the San Franciscans accept this peace offer from the Swiss, so that business of designing, building and sailing can continue without further interruption.
Here are those protocol amendments in full. They’re well worth a read, because they serve as a reminder of just what overarching powers the Defender had bestowed upon itself.
With regards America’s Cup Management’s (ACM) power to disqualify a competitor, this has been clarified to say that, should a competitor refuse to be bound by the Protocol, then they will have recourse to the Arbitration Panel without risk of disqualification until the Panel rules.
Secondly with regards ACM’s right to refuse an entry. The amendment is a restriction of ACM’s ‘ability to reject’ to an ability only on very specific grounds, which are: failure to comply with the Deed of Gift, a capacity issue within Port America’s Cup or a need to provide an equitable balance of competing nations. The SNG has made it clear that, should the GGYC abandon their legal action, they would be welcomed as a competitor for the 33rd edition and could shape the event along with the other challengers and the Defender during the ongoing Competitor Commission meetings.
A further suggested amendment point, on recommendation from the Arbitration Panel, regards the power of ACM to amend the Protocol and other rules. This has been changed to state that ‘any proposal to make any Protocol changes, related to the way in which the Arbitration Panel works, must be subject to its prior approval.’
In addition to this amendment, the SNG and CNEV have deleted the power of ACM to remove members of the Arbitration Panel. [what??!! This one had passed me by. I can’t believe ACM ever had the power to do this in the first place! It casts a different light on the ruling made by the Arbitration Panel a couple of weeks ago. A case of, ‘well, they would say that, wouldn’t they’, with ACM’s sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.]
Finally, the concern regarding ‘neutral management’ has been amended to extend the Fair Sailing rule to apply to all matters directly related to the regatta.
Following these changes, Ernesto Bertarelli made his plea to the GGYC and Larry’s team: "I would again appeal to BMW Oracle Racing to enter the 33rd America’s Cup as a legitimate challenger. It has been demonstrated that dialogue is possible for the better of this event and it should be noted by them that many areas of their concerns have been addressed.
"We would also like BMW Oracle Racing to consider that their action is hindering the opportunity for other teams to enter the competition, and harming the ability of existing competitors to generate sponsorship income and properly plan their challenge."
So, the ball is back in Larry’s court. It will be interesting to see how he plays it. Here’s hoping he enjoys his victory from Alinghi’s climbdown, and withdraws his legal proceedings accordingly.