Progress being made in America's Cup dispute

Keeping a foot in both camps, the BMW Oracle America's Cup challenge team yesterday announced it was shipping two boats from Valencia to Auckland for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series next February, but, more importantly, progress is still being made towards resolving its legal dispute with the cup holder, Switzerland's Ernesto Bertarelli.

So far Bertarelli's Alinghi team has not accepted an invitation to join the Auckland regatta, but Team New Zealand's Grant Dalton has indicated he may be willing to remove the stumbling block, a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Bertarelli for what, in effect, amounts to a claim of non-perfomance in staging the next cup next year.

There has been an all-round softening of attitudes following a face to face meeting in San Francisco between Bertarelli and Oracle boss Larry Ellison.

They plan to repeat it in the next few days in Europe. A second meeting could be held before Ellison leaves Italy on Monday following his participation in an RC44 regatta.

The first talks included a blueprint for a whole new way of running the cup to be put in place not just for next time, America's Cup 33, but for the mid-term with up to two or three events. Both men are thought to accept there will be no return to the 2007 format.

That would include a permanent, event organising, management company with the involvement and participation not just of the defender but also the challengers. Bertarelli would retain a stake but the challengers would also have shareholdings.

In an open letter last December, Bertarelli also indicated he had accepted that the cup holder should be prepared to step back from total control and for the challengers to see some of their rights and influence restored. It would be a cross between Formula 1 and a football league with the cup holder enjoying more of the prize.

He still wishes to see the holder allowed to race in preliminary regattas, possibly including the challenger elimination series, on the grounds that, under a cost-containment rule that would allow only one new boat per team, that would be the only way to be match fit.

Formerly, the defending club would hold elimination trials of its own, but that practice was brought to an end by Team New Zealand for its first defence in 2000 and the commercial benefits of being a sole defender have also dissuaded Alinghi from inviting others to share the pie.

The Louis Vuitton regatta was welcomed by 23 interested parties as the whole America's Cup train was in the sidings of the New York law courts.

Eight teams, TNZ, K Challenge (FRA), Mascalzone Latino (ITA), BMW Oracle, Chine Team, Team French Spirit, Australia First, and Team Shosholoza (RSA) have declared.

Three more are entered but remain undeclared. Of them, two are thought to include Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli's Luna Rossa and Britain's Team Origin. There is a 12th spot now that the American boats can be added to the two boats being supplied by TNZ.

Origin boss Sir Keith Mills has had extensive talks with Bertarelli, as has Bertelli and, it is thought, a new power behind the German throne and Ignacio Sanchez-Galan from Spain's energy company Iberdrola. There is now the possibility of Sir Keith performing a bridging role by talking to Ellison with a view to bringing all the parties together for a public reconciliation. That it is needed is a pity, but painful lessons have been learned about the disastrous launch plan for the next Cup in Valencia last July.

It would also require Ellison's ceo and skipper Russell Coutts to be given an exit strategy and adviser Tom Ehman to pull the plug on the final law case due to be heard next year in the New York Court of Appeals.

For Ellison there is always the risk that it could go against him; for Bertarelli he needs to know, before the end of the year at the latest by the end of next month, that he could go ahead with planning two multi-challenger pre-regattas in 2009 - possibly in Valencia and the UK - and have enough time for a new design of 85-foot boat for an America's Cup 33 in 2010, almost certainly in Valencia.

Bertarelli has already stated that he wants a Cup by then, Dalton's (unenforceable) stipulation for dropping the case is a Cup by 2011, and Sir Keith Mills' director of sailing, Mike Sanderson, has predicted a multi-challenger America's Cup in 2010.

A delicate 10 weeks is in prospect.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'