BMW Oracle questions Alinghi's validity

America’s Cup challenger BMW Oracle sent a Christmas card to Swiss defender Alinghi today. It was not in accordance of the season of goodwill.

It asked for assurances that all of the components of the monster Alinghi catamaran had been designed and built in Switzerland, alleged that its giant sails had been made in the United States, and gave notice that it intended to question the yacht’s validity with an international jury recently nominated by the sport’s world governing body, the International Sailing Federation.

The 19th century rules of the event require national purity of a competing yacht, but not of its sailors, and the BMW Oracle team, backed by the San Francisco-based computer software billionaire Larry Ellison, says it has been scrupulous in meeting the rules.

The renewed threat, one in a long list of legal moves made by the Americans, comes at a time when the American yacht, a 90-foot trimaran, is due to go through the Panama Canal on its way from its training base in San Diego to the event venue, Valencia, Spain.

The Alinghi yacht is due to leave its base in the United Arab Emirate of Ras al Khaimah bound for the Suez Canal tomorrow. It will go to the base from which Alinghi successfully defended the Cup against New Zealand in 2007.

The American yacht will go to a base in the commercial harbour, not its base in the America’s Cup marina, as that will make much easier the management of the raising and lowering of a wing mast with a height which exceeds the total wingspan of a Boeing jumbo jet.

It also comes at a time when talks are unresolved over changing the date and scope of the series of races. At the moment it is a best of three starting on 8 February. The mayor of the host city, Rita Barbera, wants to start on 12 February and to make it a best of seven. In the light of the current lack of goodwill, Alinghi is working towards the format for which BMW Oracle has fought in the New York Supreme Court.

Alinghi also knows that a further, and potentially much more vicious, attack under a claim of a breach of fiduciary duty continues to bubble away behind the scenes. If Oracle loses the race series on the water, the pursuit of that claim could sink an event which was spawned in the UK in 1851 back into the legal mire for an untold timespan to come.

With seven weeks until the start, what claims to inspire a worldwide audience, even worldwide respect, is running out of runway. Organising serious television coverage lacks credibility when it still does not know when it will start, when it will finish, what the format is, and whether the weather will allow the successful scheduling of any programmes.

Mayor Barbera’s hope that it could be delayed until 12 February and be stretched over two weekends ignores that that is the opening day of the winter Olympics.

The British challenger, Team Origin, hopes that it can find a UK venue for one of the Louis Vuitton Trophy series regattas, perhaps in 2010, if not in 2011. It will also contest the Audi MedCup series in a new TP52, designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian and being built in New Zealand.

Its entry on to the America’s Cup stage, with triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie as skipper and double gold medallist Iain Percy as tactician, may have to wait a little longer. The 2012 Olympic Games loom larger every day.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss