Read running out of time as Swedes battle for top spot
Sunday 26 April 2009
While Boston was celebrating victory by its beloved Red Sox over arch-rivals New York Yankees at the Fenway Park baseball stadium, one of its favourite sailing sons, Kenny Read, was running out of time to achieve a tea party of his own a couple of miles away at the end of the sixth, 4,900-mile leg of the Volvo round the world race.
Ahead of his bright red, Puma-sponsored 70-foot il mostro it was the marauding Swedes who were again hammering away at each other for first place. The international team on Ericsson 4 , skippered by Torben Grael, was again having its tail twisted by their grizzly Nordic teammates, skippered by the 60-year old Magnus Olsson, on Ericsson 3.
It was the old men of the sea who had won the previous leg, from Qingdao to Rio de Janeiro, but their tactical options were limited after the course took them round a whale protection and exclusion zone off Cape Cod.
Just as tight was the battle for third, between Read and Spain’s Bouwe Bekking in Telefonica Blue, while Britain’s Ian Walker, in Green Dragon, was far from happy at the prospect of bringing up the seventh-place rear into the strongly Irish city at the helm of Green Dragon.
The stately dance that is the slow, slow, quick, quick slow to the next America’s Cup will again consider the wrangle between the holder, Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi, and the challenger, San Francisco software mogul Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle, in the next fortnight but with an eye to yet another legal ruling.
Alinghi wants to meet Oracle’s giant multihull challenge in May next year, on the basis that the 19th century rules governing the cup, when European challengers had to sail their boats across the Atlantic or down from Canada, dictate that northern hemisphere racing can only take place between 1 May and 31 October.
The original judgment in the present dispute, given by Justice Herman Cahn in 2008, reverted to the 10-month notice clause and Oracle’s negotiating team says this takes precedence, and so the match should be in February next year. The defender chooses the venue and must give six months of that choice. Alinghi is unlikely to declare early in order to give Oracle the minimum time to build a venue-specific boat to replace its current 90-foot trimaran.
It will also be considering carefully the rule under which Oracle challenged in a 90-foot singlemasted boat. A two-masted defence yacht can be 115 feet and the only relevant analysis of what this means, written by the man who drew up the original deed of gift, George Schuyler, is less than definitive. No dimensions are given, nor is it specified that the second mast shall carry any sail. Another possible pay day for the rules experts and lawyers.
Alinhgi insists that it does not want a on-on-one against Oracle and that it wants to see Oracle invite others to challenge. But there is no time for others to design and build a huge multihull, even if they thought it was worth the financial gamble. Many see the call as pure posturing as both sides seek to pin the blame on the other for running the America’s Cup into the buffers. A mooted European head to head between Bertarelli and Ellison failed to materialise for the second time.
Mike Sanderson, sailing director of Britain’s Team Origin said there was no way he could proceed on that basis. Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton said: “It’s completely impractical. No challenge will build a multihull to be involved.”
Oracle had hoped there would be another meeting in New York this week when many of the players are gathering for an America’s Cup Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Instead it is not likely before next week. A venue – last Thursday it was Geneva - has yet to be agreed.
Paul Goodison was back to winning ways at the French Olympic regatta in Hyeres. The gold medallist last year in China was in dominant form despite the widely varying conditions and he won the singlehanded Laser gold with some to spare.
The Skandia Team GBR also picked up three silver medals, 2008 bronze medallist Bryony Shaw quickly returning to form in the windsurfer, Finn sailor Ed Wright repeating his performance of a year ago and two new names in the Star two-man keelboat, John Gimson and Ed Greig also making second place on the podium.
Bringing the total tally to five medals was Nick Dempsey, who won bronze in the men’s windsurfer.
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