Bertarelli under pressure to solve America's Cup debacle

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The Independent Online

America's Cup holder Ernesto Bertarelli has come under increased pressure to negotiate a solution to the problem of ensuring that all of those who have been lining up challenges for the next event, including Britain's Origin team, can take part.

After a decision by the New York State Court of Appeals earlier this month, the San Francisco-based Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) and its BMW Oracle team, was installed as Challenger of record in place of a Spanish club chosen by Bertarelli and his sponsor club, the Societé Nautique de Géneve.

This implied a one-on-one match under the rules of the 1867 Deed of Gift which govern the event, with GGYC already having challenged in a giant trimaran. But GGYC reaffirmed again this week that it remains "committed to negotiate with the defender a conventional mutual consent protocol for the next America's Cup that would involve all teams." It is expected that this would be raced in more conventional monohull yachts of the type seen at the last event in Valencia in 2007.

The city of Valencia, while losing the support of central government in Madrid, has said that it expects the next America's Cup, in whatever form, to be staged in the city.

Now, all the commodores of all the yacht clubs that even held the cup, including the Cowes-based Royal Yacht Squadron, have written an open letter to both Bertarelli and BMWOR owner Larry Ellison. In addition to Lord Iliffe it is also signed by David Elwell Jr of the New York Yacht Club, Mark Fitzhardinge of the Royal Perth Yacht Club, R. Andrew la Dow of the San Diego Yacht Club, and Scott Colebrooke of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

It says: "We write to encourage you to negotiate together for a fair and equitable multi-challenger competition for the 33rd defence of the America's Cup.

"We believe that such an event, as opposed to a Deed of Gift defence, is in the greater interest of the sport of sailing in general and of members of the broad America's Cup community, who have invested their time and resources to make the event a true international competition of the highest order.

"We hope that the current challenger and defender will work together to find a way through their differences to bring about such an event for the good of yachting and the America's Cup."

In confirming that it has now replied to Bertarelli's opening communication following the court decision, the GGYC says: "At this stage the club believes it is best to keep communications between the parties private in the interests of reaching a successful conclusion as quickly as possible."

A clean sweep of the medal places in the Finn singlehander helped Britain's Olympic sailing squad to eight medals in the Princess Sofia Trophy series in Palma de Mallorca today.

In the absence of double Olympic Finn gold medallist Ben Ainslie, it fell to the world champion Giles Scott to lead the strong British contingent with Ed Wright taking silver and Andrew Mills bronze.

Gold also went to Nick Thompson in the Laser, in which Paul Goodison won gold in China, while taking silver were John Pink and Rick Peacock in the 49er.

The bronze line-up saw Nick Dempsey back to form in the windsurfer, Dave Evans teaming up with Simon Hiscocks in the 49er, and Helena Lucas in the paralympic 2.4mR.

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