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New Zealand may be dropped from the America’s Cup

Alinghi, the Swiss team owned by Ernesto Bertarelli and a two-time America’s Cup winner, has given team New Zealand an ultimatum — drop their legal action or get kicked out of the next race, according to the Sunday Star Times.

The Grant Dalton-led syndicate was seeking $60 million in damages after Alinghi promised to hold the next America’s Cup in 2009. However, the prolonged legal hassles between Alinghi and Larry Ellison-owned Oracle syndicate debating who will have the Deed of Gift have pushed the regatta into 2010, according to the report. New Zealand has until Dec. 15 to withdraw their charges or be specifically ousted.

Dalton admits this decision came as “a bolt out of the blue.”

“And we thought we were pretty close to a settlement, but then this letter arrived,” says Dalton in the report. “They are trying to bully and intimidate us, which is not going to get anyone anywhere, really.”

Bertarelli, who now has the upper hand in the case against Ellison, has planned to move forward with planning the Cup for 2010. Dalton says he applauded that decision and looked forward to being a part of it. To make matters worse, Bertarelli sees the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series — to be held in Auckland in the new year — as a potential rival to the Cup, according to the report. But Dalton remains optimistic.

“Dec. 15 is a long way away,” says Dalton. “I thought we were making good progress towards a settlement.”

— Elizabeth Ellis