Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 19 News List

America’s Cup spat goes on in appeals court in California


San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht began its last-chance appeal to become the Challenger of Record on Monday and help set the rules for the next America’s Cup.

The GGYC met the deadline for filing its brief with the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany. The California club, which backs Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing, wants the court to overturn a ruling by the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division that Spain’s Club Nautico Espanol de Vela, not GGYC, should be the Challenger of Record for the 33rd America’s Cup.

This is the latest step in the 16-month spat between the GGYC and Societe Nautique de Geneve, which backs two-time defending America’s Cup champion Alinghi of Switzerland.

GGYC filed its appellate brief two days after Ellison, the chief executive of Oracle Corp, and Alinghi’s boss, Swiss tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli, met in San Francisco in an attempt to get sailing’s premier event out of the courts and back on the water in its traditional format.

The Swiss group must file its brief by Nov. 13.

Both sides said they’d like to continue talks, but no new discussions have been scheduled.

Last week, GGYC offered to drop its appeal if Alinghi agreed to a multichallenger regatta under the rules used in the 32nd America’s Cup last year. Ellison reiterated that offer in his meeting with Bertarelli, BMW Oracle Racing spokesman Tom Ehman said.

The American and Swiss syndicates have been squabbling for more than a year over the rules Alinghi proposed for the 33rd America’s Cup. That regatta had been scheduled for next year in Valencia, Spain, but was postponed last autumn because of the legal fight.

Shortly after Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand in July last year to retain the oldest trophy in international sports, the Swiss announced they had chosen Nautico Espanol de Vela as the Challenger of Record.

BMW Oracle Racing sued in a New York court, contending that the Spanish yacht club is a sham and that the rules proposed by Alinghi for the next regatta were tilted in favor of the defender.

The GGYC secured a ruling that it was the Challenger of Record.

When the Americans and Swiss couldn’t agree to terms for a conventional regatta, it appeared they were headed toward a rare one-on-one showdown, or Deed of Gift match, in giant multihulls.

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