Expatica news

New York Court sets hearing for Wednesday in America’s Cup squabble

28 March 2008

VALENCIA – A New York judge scheduled a hearing next Wednesday to settle the date for the America’s Cup showdown between defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland and American challenger BMW Oracle Racing.

The Societe Nautique Geneve, home of Alinghi, took its American counterpart back to court after the syndicates couldn’t agree on Wednesday on a date for the best-of-three race. Alinghi wants to race after 1 May 2009, and BMW Oracle Racing is sticking to this October for the duel.

“The court has confirmed our challenge as valid and we are very pleased the court is now giving prompt attention to fixing a date for the race, which the defender is again seeking to delay,” BMW Oracle Racing spokesman Tom Ehman said on Thursday.

“We believe that the right date for the match, under the rules set out in the Deed of Gift, is October 2008,” Ehman added. “As other challengers have also said, the sooner we get on and race this match the sooner we can all get back to a conventional America’s Cup regatta that includes all teams.”

Last week, Judge Herman Cahn refused to hear new arguments from Alinghi. The judge let stand his November order that San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, which backs BMW Oracle Racing, was the rightful Challenger of Record, not a Spanish club that had been chosen by the Swiss. Since BMW Oracle Racing and Alinghi couldn’t agree to a traditional, multiple-challenger America’s Cup, the one-on-one showdown was the next alternative.

Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli argued that the Swiss team does not have enough time to build a boat to race in October, a claim that BMW Oracle Racing disagrees with.

Team New Zealand already has called on Alinghi to forfeit its title. Italian syndicate Mascalzone Latino is also backing its American rival in the ongoing saga, which has been mired in New York State Supreme Court since July 2007 – weeks after Alinghi retained the Auld Mug with a 5-2 win over Team New Zealand.

“The best solution now would be to hold the multihull challenge between Oracle and Alinghi, even if, yet again, the latter try to delay the event using every possible tactic,” Italian team owner Vincenzo Onorato said on Thursday. “For the survival of the America’s Cup, we must hope that Oracle wins, and after that we’ll have to roll up our sleeves and work hard.”

[Copyright AP 2008]