Rave from the Viaduct
February 2, 2009, 1:05 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Having resisted the temptation to indulge in the vanity of parading my own opinions for 18 months, I thought that one of perhaps two or three missives may be allowed for 2009.
The Viaduct Basin in Auckland is buzzing again as 10 America’s Cup teams, some very real, some still winging it, have gathered for what is billed as a fornight of fun under the banner of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.
The format for the match racing is far too difficult to reduce to simple English, especially as a lot of flexibility has been built in to accommodate any unhelpful weather.
What is for sure is that the hosts, Emirates Team New Zealand, can race against all the others but has an automatic place in the finals. Such provision has caused furious debate in other circles.
Drinking in the same bar are the crews of the America’s Cup holder, Switzerland’s Alinghi, and their BMW Oracle rivals. The latest legal depositions over the structure of the next America’s Cup will be made during the Kiwi love-in, on the 10 February. Both sides can have up to 30 minutes to make their cases, again, to a New York Court of Appeals panel of seven judges which includes Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, who was in charge of the challenge brought by (now Sir) Michael Fay against the San Diego Yacht Club. Even he wonders, these days, if he would do the same again.
As Senator George Mitchell is sent by new President Barack Obama to wade once more into a Middle East mire which extends well beyond just Irael and putative Palestine, questions have been asked in Auckland about the possibility of last-minute talks to avert tipping over the edge.
The LVPS has its finale on 14 February but any romantic notions of hearts and flowers are brushed aside by Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth. His friend and opposite number Russell Coutts says he still wants to do everything to bring about a return to a multi-challenge America’s Cup in which the challengers have a fair crack of the whip.
I know how I interpret the English in the Deed of Gift but I know also that the Court of Appeals is not there to make recommendations on how to run a better, nor more just, nor more sensible America’s Cup. The only opinion it is constituted to promulgate is legal opinion.
What I can hope is that BMW Oracle, in the event of winning its argument and being made Challenger of Record and being given the go-ahead for a one-on-one Deed of Gift match, will already have a prepared statement to be read on the steps of the court saying that it is still prepared to go into talks, as Challenger of Record, with Alinghi to establish an immediate return to a multi-challenger format which has not been perfect but has served reasonably well for the second half of the 20th century.
If Alinghi feels it needs to stick to its one boat per team principle, especially at a time when the world’s finances are in chaos, then it could always return to the system which ran well up until 1995 and invite others to race in defender trials.
And I cannot finish without saying that I feel the International Sailing Federation could have chosen Francis Joyon as its sailor of the year, but, to borrow a phrase from Abba Eban about the troubled Middle East, ISAF rarely misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Michel Desjoyeaux has done a fantastic job in the Vendee Globe solo round the world race, and Sam Davies, perhaps among all the finishers, deserves huge applause.


2 Comments so far
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Not sure what is meant by ‘it could always return to the system which ran well up until 1995 and invite others to race in defender trials.’ I have never heard of such a system in the AC. Defenders and Challengers trials have always been separate to my knowledge

Comment by David Jones

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Comment by Mike

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