America's Cup: Courts Say "Shut Up and Race!"

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IApril 2, 2009

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 29:  Alinghi Team Switzerland races against Emirates Team New Zealand during the fifth race of the 32nd America's Cup Match by Louis Vuitton on June 29, 2007 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In an expected decision that surprised nobody but the Swiss Alinghi team, the New York Court of Appeals today threw out Club Nautico Espanol de Vela’s (CNEV) sham of a challenge and pronounced Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) the Challenger of Record for the 33rd America's Cup. 

The six judges of the NY Court of Appeals decided, unanimously (6-0), that the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), Alinghi's yacht club, was in violation of the Deed when they accepted the challenge presented by Club Nautico Español de Vela, Desafío Español's newly-formed yacht club, for the reason that it hadn't held its annual regatta before the moment it presented its challenge.

"It falls now to SNG and GGYC to work together to maintain this noble sailing tradition as 'a perpetual Challenge Cup for friendly competition between foreign countries” wrote the judges.

What does that mean for the 33rd America’s Cup? The Court of Appeals is New York State's highest venue, and no further appeals are possible. In theory the lower court orders which are re-instated in this ruling lay out the basis for the when and where the America’s Cup Regatta will take place.

The Challenger's Notice of Challenge starts a 10-month clock for the defense while the Defender decides the location of the races. Alinghi and BMW Oracle will now face each other, 10 months from now, in a venue that Alinghi will choose in boats that both teams must agree on.

Alinghi was quick to respond to the ruling: “It has consistently been our view that the America's Cup should be fought on the water. Today through the American courts the Golden Gate Yacht Club has won the right to challenge the Société Nautique de Genève. We will now discuss the terms for the regatta with them and will prepare our defense of the 33rd America's Cup.”

Don’t believe that for a second. Alinghi’s President, Ernesto Bertarelli has shown a complete unwillingness to negotiate with his nemeses Ellison, Coutts, and Ehman of BMW Oracle. Don’t expect anything friendly about the 33rd America’s Cup.