Bertarelli endelig på banen

America´s Cup sirkuset vil ingen ende ta. Nå vil forsvareren Ernesto Bertarelli endre hele fundamentet for seilasene og han har fått med seg New York Yacht Club i prosessen. For den virkelig interesserte følger her Bertarells erklæring sammen med en melding fra NYYC.

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The America's Cup

Another America's Cup bombshell at the end of the week... Alinghi head Ernesto Bertarelli has released a public statement calling for major revisions not to the Protocol that caused so much shock and awe... but to the Deed of Gift itself! And now the New York Yacht Club has stepped in...

* Bertarelli's Statement

Since Alinghi's successful defence of the America's Cup in July, much has been said by many and I wish to explain my personal passion for bringing my vision of the America's Cup to life.

When I founded Alinghi it was all about creating a team to share the passion of sailing through every channel available to as wide an audience as possible. We tried to adopt a fresh and open way of doing things and making part of our base accessible to the public was only one example of the many innovations Alinghi brought to the America's Cup. I believe this approach was a contributing factor to our success in 2003.

With the Defence of the Cup, we got the opportunity to share this spirit with the whole event. When we began, we set out a clear and innovative strategy focusing on the choice of venue, the set up of a purpose built port, the America's Cup Park and the Acts as part of our vision of opening the event to as large an audience as possible.

Over six million people attended the event, which for the first time saw the participation of syndicates from five continents. The television coverage extended the reach to over four billion viewers.

The critics who opposed the Acts, the choice of venue, the television production, etc. were numerous and vociferous but the facts proved that the 32nd America's Cup was a positive turning point for this historical event.

At the same time as realising some of the fascinating aspects of the America's Cup I also became aware of its weaknesses. The uncertain format of the event meant that teams - and the entire America's Cup Community - had no future beyond the next Cup. This leads to teams only surviving one cycle and the whole event needing to recreate itself every three to five years. This results in a substantial increase in costs and difficulty in securing long term sponsors.

For the 33rd edition, the concept was to empower the organisers to implement further innovations without unnecessary disruptions. The proposal to create the new AC90 class with the one boat sailing rule in a two year cycle is a major measure towards managing the costs while creating further excitement and by using the existing facilities of Valencia we had the ideal platform to maintain momentum. This would have enabled the event to prosper and generate greater revenue for the organisers to share with the teams.

The recent events in the New York courts, with the Judge ruling the CNEV invalid because it had not held its regatta at the right time, show the Achilles' heel of the event and the possibility of its destabilisation through individual actions. Again, as in 2003, our vision has received criticism from those reluctant to change. I stand by one of the principles of the Cup: the Trustee, with the Defender, has the responsibility for the governance of the event and to implement changes which will allow it to prosper.

With a view towards the future and having studied the rules of the Cup I observed that the Deed does not actively promote parity for the teams and a long term future of the event.

In October of this year I went to New York to start a dialogue with the New York Yacht Club to examine what enthusiasm there was to make the event more relevant to today's sporting landscape. The Deed of Gift was, after all, written over 150 years ago at the NYYC and could not anticipate the changes that the world has undergone. I was not expecting the discussions to be completed swiftly but I was thrilled when Charles Townsend, Commodore of the NYYC and George W. Carmany III, Chairman of NYYC America's Cup Committee, expressed the same feelings.

It is fair to say that the 33rd America's Cup has been ill-fated and I have a desire to make it right. The fastest way to achieve this objective would be for the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the Societe Nautique de Geneve to work with the New York Yacht Club on revising the Deed of Gift to make it appropriate for today without losing what makes the America's Cup special. As part of this process I am happy to compromise on some of the Defender's rights to achieve what is best for the event.

In effect, I raise the following questions:

- Should the Defender automatically be qualified for the final AC Match or should all teams start on equal footings?

- Should the schedule of venues and content of regulations be announced several cycles in advance allowing planning and funding?

- Should the governance of the Cup become permanent and be managed by entities representing past and current trustees as well as competing teams?

Over the weekend I spoke at length with Larry Ellison explaining our proposal and I was pleased that he was very supportive of the principles in the proposed changes.

Based on these principles it is my intention to work towards a renovated America's Cup to take place in Valencia and to be raced with the certainty that the event cannot be disrupted to meet individual requirements to the detriment of those willing and able to compete.

If this revision of the governing documents of the America's Cup cannot be achieved, we will have to accept the GGYC challenge under the Deed of Gift. -- www.americascup.com

* From the NYYC

The New York Yacht Club confirmed today that it has agreed to join discussions related to the future conduct of racing for the America's Cup.

Charles H. Townsend, commodore of the New York Yacht Club, said, "We were approached earlier in the year by Mr. Ernesto Bertarelli of Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), the current holder of the Cup. We concluded that given our club's founding association with the competition we can work impartially to assist in the development of initiatives to preserve and build competition for the oldest international trophy in sport, and ensure that it will endure as a premiere global sporting event for generations to come."

Commodore Townsend also announced that the Club would be represented in discussions with the Cup community by Trustee and Chairman of the Club's America's Cup Committee, George W. Carmany III. "In addition to Ernesto Bertarelli, we have received an expression of support for this initiative from Larry Ellison, owner of Golden Gate Yacht Club's (GGYC) America's Cup team," said Mr. Carmany. "We hope that our discussions will lead to agreements that will benefit all members of the broader America's Cup community."

"We do not want this initiative to interfere in any way with Golden Gate Yacht Club's current America's Cup challenge. While we do not wish to foreclose other options which either SNG or GGYC may wish to pursue regarding the conduct of the next America's Cup match, we are available to participate in discussions that consider changes to the governing documents to facilitate the future conduct of regular and independently managed competitions at locations throughout the world," concluded Mr. Carmany.

"While we understand that we are not contemplating a simple task, we are made confident in undertaking the effort by the support and encouragement of Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli," said Commodore Townsend. "We compliment both gentlemen on their foresight and willingness to participate in the discussions. We are hopeful that this initiative can be beneficial to all those who compete for the America's Cup, and to the fans who enjoy it so much." -- www.nyyc.org

Editorials

Why now?

Surely this is the sort of deal that should have been placed on the table on 5th July 2007, instead of the one-sided Protocol signed with a club that had never staged a regatta and described itself as a 'legal adjustment'. Why now, after allowing the legal dispute to run its full race in the New York Supreme Court? Why now after Ernesto postponed the America's Cup indefinitely, just days before Justice Cahn delivered his decision?

And why not just sit down and talk with Golden Gate YC and the other key Challengers, rather than issue an open letter of this type without the threat of a Deed of Gift Match.

To be fair, Ernesto is the first Defender to express a willingness to negotiate some of the Defender's Rights in order to achieve what some would believe is a needed update to the Deed of Gift. However his timing is lousy.

What happens in the next week or two will be the real proof of Ernesto's and Alinghi's intentions. -- Richard Gladwell in Sail-World.com, full text at www.sail-world.com/indexs.cfm?nid=39751