Alinghi catamaran airlifted through the Alps

The Alinghi catamaran which will defend the America's Cup next February was airlifted from its Lake Geneva home down the Rhone and through the Alps today to its staging post, Mediterranean base at the Cantieri Amico shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

Unfortunately there was a break in communications between air traffic control and the Italian coastguard which resulted in the Russian MiL 26 helicopter being stacked until being given permission to put its precious cargo into the water.

About 7,000 miles away on the West Coast of the United States the video was ignored and all eyes were concentrating on the wording of the measurement procedures for the challenger, BMW-Oracle's, yacht,

First reactions from Larry Ellison's spokesman, Tom Ehman, were 1) "we are reviewing our options" and 2) "we have just received the Societe Nautique de Geneve's so-called ‘measurement procedures'. We are analysing them now, but there is a number of irregularities."

The procedures, some of which will be carried out under the US Coastguard measurement system, differ from modern practice in that the boat will be measured with all the crew and boat equipment on board, including sails. The extra weight will push the hulls of the Oracle boat deeper into the water, possibly adding length, and it appears that rudders, normally excluded, will be included.

Oracle is limited to 90 feet by 90 feet. The document appears to want exactitude where even a millimetre over would be unacceptable. The question is whether a millimetre under would be unacceptable. The normal International Sailing Federation rules appear to have been abandoned. ISAF appears to have made no attempt to give leadership or control over a high-profile event which is, in some eyes, bringing sailing into disrepute.

The Alinghi boat only has to be not over 90 feet. Measurement would take place under Alinghi supervision, in Ras al-Khaimah, if that Persian Gulf remains the venue for the best of three scheduled to start on 8 February. The venue may still be contested. The next court hearing is on Monday in New York before the redoubtable Justice Shirley Korneich to hear a complaint by Alinghi that Oracle has not lodged an official certificate with the yacht's dimensions.

In the background, latest pictures of the Alinghi crew show the return of Simon Daubney after serving a two-year disqualification for banned substances found in his blood during the successful defence of the America's Cup by Alinghi against Daubney's native New Zealand in Valencia in 2007.

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