America's Cup remains in limbo

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The Independent Online

Two sets of negotiations, one in Valencia the other in Singapore, today saw the staging of the America's Cup, officially less than four weeks away on 8 February, still in limbo.

The defender, Switzerland's Alinghi, was under the threat of further legal action by the American challenger, BMW Oracle's, attempt to have its catamaran declared illegal. Talks to resolve the dispute went on all day at Sentosa Island's One Degree 15 marina resort and adjourned without resolution.

The two sides will meet again tomorrow under the observation of the International Sailing Federation's Dave Kellett and the man who will chair the international jury, David Tillett.

Neither side was willing to comment, but it appears that part of the horse-trading may involve the Americans being willing to see the event delayed long enough to allow the Swiss to build in Switzerland all the equipment on the boat which the Americans say is illegal because it has been sourced outside Switzerland.

Necessarily, and in return, this would invalidate most of the court actions which the Americans are planning on this basis and it would also offer the Americans almost priceless extra time to prepare their 90-foot wing-masted trimaran, which has arrived in Valencia after too little testing time in San Diego.

The calculation for Ernesto Bertarelli in Valencia yesterday was to decide if he would prefer not to give the Americans the extra time and so risk, post the best of three regatta, a successful protest either in Spain or New York against what be believes is a boat which will win on the water.

He also needed to weigh up whether he could sign an agreement with Valencia mayor Rita Barbera on when to stage the event, including her wish to see everything delayed until April and contested over a best of seven races.

In London, solo ocean racer Sam Davies was named Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year by the Yachting Journalists Association after being fourth in the Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race.

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