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America’s Cup finally moves to the water

The “battle of the billionaires” should finally move out of the court and onto the water

February 2010 — the date Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich has set for the 33rd America’s Cup in a May 14 order that both sides hailed as a victory.

It looks like BMW/Oracle and Alinghi will finally clash outside of the court.

The 33rd Cup has been in litigation for two years.

Barring a decision otherwise by mutual consent — and there’s almost nothing these two have agreed on yet — Larry Ellison’s BMW/Oracle and Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi teams will meet in a two-out-of-three series in 90-foot (LWL) multihulls, probably in Valencia, Spain, though Swiss defender Alinghi and sponsoring club Societe Nautique de Geneve can choose someplace else if they wish.

SNG will have to make that decision by Aug. 8. In arguments before the New York Supreme Court, SNG attorneys did not name Valencia as their choice for the next venue, but insisted the club wants to race the next Cup in the Northern Hemisphere.

The February date was indeed a vindication for Golden Gate Yacht Club, BMW/Oracle’s sponsoring American club. GGYC hauled SNG back into court May 14 claiming contempt because the Swiss club wanted to move the Cup date back to May 2010 in defiance of an earlier court order. BMW/Oracle said it was a delaying tactic intended to give SNG more time to build its boat. SNG claimed the February date conflicts with the Cup’s Deed of Gift, which says a Cup can’t be raced between November and May in the Northern Hemisphere because of weather considerations.

Judge Kornreich said the earlier court order of a February 2010 race date takes precedence over the deed and, in any case, if SNG doesn’t want to race in northerly latitudes in February it can move the race south of the equator. Alinghi’s lawyers say they don’t want to do that.

This article originally appeared in the Home Waters Sections of the July 2009 issue.