Team New Zealand's Grant Dalton talk to BYM News after filing two suits against Alinghi, SNG, ACM & Ernesto Bertarelli.
BYM. You want SNG removed as the trustee of the America’s Cup.
Grant Dalton. Amongst other things we want.
BYM. OK, but what would happen if that were to take place?
Grant Dalton. Well there’s two scenarios to that. The first scenario is that if Oracle defeats them, if they end up in a multihull race, then that would fall aside, because there is obviously no point in removing a trustee that doesn’t hold the Cup. Assuming that doesn’t happen and I’m assuming it will happen, but assuming it doesn’t what then? We would be not be looking for a forfeit of the Cup, what we are saying is that the Trustee that is holding the Cup now is not able to correctly fulfill its fiduciary duties and there should be a new Trustee that is appointed the holder of the Cup; that would not mean that Alinghi is no longer the defender, just that a new trustee should be appointed.
BYM. I don’t think there is a precedent for doing that in the Deed of Gift, is there?
Grant Dalton. Well, the Deed of Gift talks about the defender not turning up for the match. I’m not a lawyer, I’m a yachtsman and I think it would just be handled under normal trust Law and another trustee would be appointed.
BYM. Which is presumably why you’ve appointed David Boies to handle your case?
Grant Dalton. I think the reason that David Boies is handling the case is simply that he is a very good lawyer, a very well known lawyer, but also it’s to say that Team New Zealand is taking this particularly seriously and it’s not frivolous, from our point of view, in any shape or form and having David Boies just adds more fuel to that argument.
BYM. Don’t you think that this could delay the America’s Cup match still further? You were talking about a Deed of Gift match, but how can there be one if there is a potential for the trustee being removed?
Grant Dalton. It wouldn’t delay that at all, the Deed of Gift match can still take place. This court case is going to take some time and even if there wasn’t a Deed of Gift match there is still the fact that the AC event has been delayed beyond 2009 and an event in ’09 was a contractual part of our entry, that’s what started the problem when they decided to unilaterally change that.
BYM. Everyone knows that Team New Zealand is rather strapped for cash ………..
Grant Dalton. We’re always strapped for cash.
BYM. Exactly, so how can you afford to bring this law suit?
Grant Dalton. For a start, we want to make it clear that we are not using sponsors money, nor New Zealand Government money – tax payers money - to bring this case and we’ve made that clear to the press in New Zealand, quite categorically, in the last few hours. One of the great things about the existence of Team New Zealand is the emergence, over the last few years, of number of people who believe in Team New Zealand and support it. It’s for lots of different reasons; they support it because they want to promote New Zealand, or they just like the David and Goliath environment in which we operate; I’m talking about private individuals.
BYM. You’re talking about the people who had their megayachts in Valencia and all chipped in a bit to help you?
Grant Dalton. Absolutely, and it’s that feeling about Team New Zealand that makes this possible.
BYM. One thing doesn’t make any sense to me is this. I agree that CNEV was not a valid yacht club, but I’m absolutely certain that Desafio Espanol wants to win the America’s Cup. So why would they have agreed to a protocol if - as you say – that protocol made things really loaded towards Alinghi?
Grant Dalton. Well I think that’s a management issue for the Spanish syndicate to answer. I think, if the John Cutlers of this world were dealing with this – and they can only answer - there was no way they would have agreed to that, but I don’t think they had a choice, because the political people are the bosses of those guys.
BYM. But the sponsor was happy to go along with it; which makes it even more odd.
Grant Dalton. That depends on how it was explained to the sponsor. I can’t really speak about how it came to pass, but a sponsor wouldn’t, necessarily, understand – and I understand sponsors - what they were told, but simply believe what they were told.
BYM. One of the things you criticise is that the Challengers’ Commission has been replaced by the Competitors’ Commission. I’ve talked to people like Jochen Schuman and people from Origin and Salvatore Sarno and they say the Competitors’ Commission is a big improvement, because you are all sitting round the same table. So what do you have against it?
Grant Dalton. Well I haven’t got anything against it per se, but what they are not saying is that that forum has no power the Competitors’ Commission has no power, whereas the Challengers’ Commission had power, because it was the voice of the Challenger of Record.
The forum you are talking about is Alinghi speaking, under the Protocol, it cannot effect any change to the rules under the Protocol as it stands, or as it probably will be disqualified; we’re in the hands of the defender. So it’s a lovely chat, great to have a cup of coffee, but it’s got no teeth.
BYM. It did bring about changes in the AC 90 boat though, didn’t it?
Grant Dalton. Well what is not in our claim and is irrelevant to our claim is that one of the conditions of our entry was that we wished to be involved and open the forum for the decisions input on the new America’s Cup Class boat; point 1. Point 2, I think the noise from the crowd was so loud about the unfair environment that Alinghi had started to create with its Protocol, that they had to try and appease the masses.
Certainly, on the boat, there was input. The question remains unanswered though, of course, is how long had Alinghi been working on that boat?
BYM. Do you really believe that Ernesto Bertarelli is the sort of person who would want to win the America’s Cup at all costs and would fiddle the rules to make it almost certain that nobody else could win?
Grant Dalton. I think he is a person that has a belief of a particular way that he thinks the America’s Cup should run. The flaw in that logic is that the America’s Cup is not the FIA, it is not Bernie Ecclestone, it is controlled by a Deed of Gift that was written 156 years ago. It is that which controls the America’s Cup; there is a, not even subtle, there is a major difference between the environment of most sporting events and the America’s Cup.
BYM. Yes, I understand that, but is he the sort of person who would want to bend the rules to give himself an unfair advantage?
Grant Dalton. You have to look at the rules and make that decision yourself.
BYM. Ernesto Bertarelli helped Team New Zealand get off the ground, in 2003, and launch its campaign with a loan.
Grant Dalton. Yes, correct.
BYM. Do you feel bad about ………………
Grant Dalton. The money was paid back in full. The point is that Emirates Team New Zealand is the major brand in the Cup, if you like, or one of the top brands and is important to the Cup to have Team New Zealand in it. The line at the time was, I felt, generous and it allowed us to cross that threshold and get in the Cup. I was then a member of the Ernesto Bertarelli fan club until very late in the piece, when I started to see signs during the race for the America’s Cup itself, between us and them. Events after that didn’t fit with the person I thought I’d got to know a little bit and I’ve been flabbergasted by events since the Cup.
BYM. OK, one last question. What could Ernesto Bertarelli do now, in the way of coming to you and saying “Look Grant, let’s sort this" that would make you drop the court case?
Grant Dalton. We are incurring losses by the day – millions of dollars of loss. The Cup won’t be held in ’09, that isn’t even in Ernesto’s control anymore. He played that card and he lost. Oracle called his bluff and they won. So he can’t really do much now that can stop Emirates Team New Zealand carrying loss. But in the end, we’re yachtsmen, we’re not about litigation, that’s just a last resort. We just want to get back on the water, as soon as that is practically possible.
BYM. So could Ernesto say anything to you now that would start negotiations to get it back on the water?
Grant Dalton. I’m sure, right now, Ernesto Bertarelli wants to say lots of things to me, but none of them would be reconciling this situation.
BYM. Thank you, Grant, for calling BYM News.