I, Commodore Marcus Young, certify the details set out below as to the name, rig and specified dimensions of the keel yacht to represent Golden Gate Yacht Club.

Like most people, everyone at BYM News latched onto 90 ft x 90 ft dimensions in the GGYC Deed of Gift Challenge and thought "multihull". It's clear that nobody noticed that the GGYC challenge began with the above words.

If anyone had noticed the use of that phrase "keel yacht", way back in July 2007, the discussion would have begun to rage then, for the simple fact is that the terms "keel yacht" and "multihull" are mutually exclusive. BYM News wasn't alone in failing to spot the anomaly; from comments made over the next few months, it seems clear that nobody else did, not even people at SNG/Alinghi, not lawyers - whether involved or mere observers. Not one AC historian; not one single member of the media commented on the "keel yacht" phrase, not one forum post mentioned it.

You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in any yacht club, or on any waterfront, who wouldn't laugh if you suggested a multihull could be a keel yacht, but - just in case some landlubbers still have doubts we looked for authoritative corroboration. Who is the current top multihull designer? That's arguable, but with Francis Joyon's IDEC set to pulverise the solo round the world record, one name that certainly springs to mind is Nigel Irens. We asked him "Can the term keel yacht be applied to a multihull?"

Irens replied:

The terms 'Multihull' and 'Keel Boat' (or less commonly used 'Keel Yacht') are used to differentiate between two types of boat that are fundamentally different. A 'Keel Boat' derives its stability from the use of ballast whereas a 'Multihull' carries no ballast and derives its stability from its width. The term 'Keel Yacht' could, therefore, not be applied to describe a multihull.

In its latest Memorandum of Law, GGYC says:

SNG claims that GGYC's Certificate refers to a "keel yacht" and SNG seeks to advance the nonsensical inference that GGYC's Certificate describes a 90' x 90' monohull, which is essentially a barge. SNG bases this contention solely on the presumption that a 90' x 90' multi-hull cannot have a keel. As the Sailor's Illustrated Dictionary states, a "keel" is a "structural member that is the backbone of the ship; it runs along the centreline of the bottom." (Petrocelli Ex.D at 240.) SNG submits nothing to suggest that one or more hulls of a multi-hull cannot contain such a "structural member."

Nigel Irens takes a rather different view:

The word 'Keel' itself is more complex in that in can be an abbreviation for 'Ballast Keel', but it can also be used to describe the 'backbone' on which a vessel is to be built. 'Laying the keel' is a term used to describe the act of mounting a longitudinal member - often almost the full length of the vessel - on a set of blocks. As this is the first component to be set up ready for the building of a vessel the term 'Laying the keel' has become the symbolic start of the build - much as 'Laying the foundation stone' represents the start of the process of building.
A wooden, steel or aluminium multihull could have a 'Keel' in each hull in this sense, but that would absolutely not make it a 'Keel Yacht'.

GGYC goes on to say:

Simply because the ISAF has a classification entitled "keelboat" alongside of vessels entitled multihull" does not mean that only mono-hull vessels have keels, or that multi-hulls cannot or do not have keels as SNG seeks to imply. Indeed multi-hull vessels have keels, as illustrated by the pictures contained in Appendix II.

Nigel Irens responds:

Some cruising multihulls do indeed have a fixed fin protruding from the bottom of each hull. This is very much a cruising device as the purpose of such appendages is:
a) to avoid the expense and encumbrance of a centreboard system in each hull, and
b) to allow the boat to sit comfortably on sand or mud when moored or anchored in a place that dries at low tide. These fins are sometimes referred to as 'Keels', but again by no stretch of the imagination would the vessels be called 'Keel Yachts' because, as explained above, that term is reserved to describe a single-hulled vessel dependent on a ballast keel for stability.
No performance-orientated multihull would use fixed fins or unballasted keels. The fins or 'keels' would be likely to be too low in aspect ratio and so would be inefficient - as well as being fixed (unlike a true centreboard, which can be withdrawn into the hull.

So what was GGYC's intention in describing its challenging boat as a "keel yacht" and, at the same time, giving dimensions that would clearly make any reasonable person assume that the vessel was to be a multihull? What motive led Marcus Young to specifically mention "keel yacht", rather than just "yacht", when the terms "keel yacht" and "multihull" are - in the eyes of the majority - mutually exclusive?

We may only get an answer in court, but, whatever the intention, what is clear is that in using the phrase "keel yacht" and, in the same document referring to a 90 ft x 90 ft vessel GGYC has certainly caused confusion, which is precisely the opposite of the Deed of Gift's intent. No Cup historian would deny that the Deed of Gift requirement that "Accompanying the ten months' notice of challenge there must be sent the name of the owner and a certificate of the name, rig, and following dimensions of the challenging vessel, namely, length on load water-line; beam at load water-line and extreme beam; and draught of water, which dimensions shall not be exceeded; and a custom-house registry of the vessel must also be sent as soon as possible" had and still has one purpose: to provide the Defender with sufficient knowledge of the opponent's vessel to build his own competitive boat.

This is not the only example of GGYC statements causing confusion. Let's return to the GGYC Memorandum of Law and the statement;

SNG seeks to advance the nonsensical inference that GGYC's Certificate describes a 90' x 90' monohull, which is essentially a barge."

"SNG seeks to advance a nonsensical inference"! Isn't that more true of the GGYC statement? How could anyone, with even minimal knowledge of vessels, suggest that dimensions of 90' x 90' essentially indicate a barge?

A 90' x 90' monohull is no more a barge than a multihull is a keel yacht; so why say it is? The above picture shows a 20th century Rhine barge, the left picture shows a 19th century Thames barge and it is obvious that neither vessel has dimensions that come close to 90ft x 90 ft. In fact, the Rhine barge is 110 metres x 11.4 metres and the Thames barge is 82.2ft x 20.3ft.

GGYC's Memorandum of Law creates more confusion in using pictures, in Appendix II, of boats that are below the minimum water line length specified for the America's Cup, such as a 43 foot cruising catamaran by Fountaine Pajot, similar to this vessel. What relevance do craft that are ineligible for the America's Cup have to GGYC's argument? Why bring them into it?

This confusion is further compounded by the second part of Petrocelli Ex.D at 240, which in full defines "Keel" as: "On large vessels, a structural member that is the backbone of the ship; it runs along the centreline of the bottom. On small craft, there are many external keel designs that do not run the length of a vessel, such as a fin keel. The purpose of the keel in small vessels, if it projects downward, is to resist leeward forces and to give additional stability."

What relevance does this have to the GGYC argument, given that there is a very distinct definition of "large", where yachts are concerned. A large yacht is over 24 metres long; GGYC's 90 foot boat is clearly over 24 metre, so why use photographs that illustrate small craft with absolutely no relevance to GGYC's large yacht? Could it be because it would be very hard to find images of any yacht that was close to 90' x 90' and had any of the appendages shown in Appendix II?

Groupama 3 is 31.50 metres by 22.50 metres and certainly doesn't have any downward projecting fixed appendages, other than rudders.

Where does this leave everyone? Confused yes, and there is ample evidence to prove that was never George Schulyer's intention, but - in terms of SNG's motion for leave to renew and reargue - will the fact that GGYC has created confusion be enough for Judge Cahn to think again? Who knows, but is that relevant anyway? Does it really matter what a court rules when - whatever the ruling - the end result is that you have to win on the water? If an International Sailing Jury says "Sorry, you're disqualified, your boat is not what you said you would challenge with." you cannot win on the water.

GGYC is adamant in its Argument that it HAS provided all the information that the Deed of Gift requires it to provide and that means that GGYC - in giving only an overall breadth for its challenging vessel - has indeed, regardless of debate over keels, committed itself to a monohull challenge and any attempt to race in a catamaran, or trimaran could only result in disqualification.

GGYC is also adamant that the Deed of Gift does not require it to state "whether it intended a catamaran or a trimaran", or to specify "dimensions for each of the hulls". In fact the Deed of Gift does require that, because - it requires a Challenger to send a "Customs House Registry, as soon as possible". GGYC is clearly aware of that requirement, because in its July 11 Notice of Challenge, signed by GGYC Commodore Marcus Young and GGYC Staff Commodore Norbert Bajurin, it stated "The Customs House Registry of the Challenging vessel will be sent as soon as possible." Had GGYC intended to compete in anything other than what is - under Customs House definitions - a monohull, it would have had to specify the dimensions of individual hulls, thus clearly indicating to SNG whether it intended to compete in a catamaran, or trimaran and what the individual hull dimensions would be.

Looks like the information supplied by GGYC was:


In addition to stories in this 33rd America's Cup section, you can read stories from the 32nd America's Cup . You will also find some older stories and interviews, from the last event, HERE.
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