For the third time, in less than a month, the GGYC website has commented on some interview with an Alinghi team member under the heading "Myth and Reality"; implying that what Alinghi says is "Myth" and what BMW Oracle says is "Reality".
In the first of a two part series, on Myth versus Reality, BYM News looks at one aspect of the latest GGYC comments on an interview Ernesto Bertarelli gave to French newspaper, Le Figaro; the oft repeated statement that seven teams declared the Alinghi Protocol to be "the worst text in the history of the America's Cup".
On the left is José Ignacio Sanchez Galan, President of Desafio Espanol.
On the right is Manuel Chirivella, President of CNEV.
The letter that contains the oft repeated phrase "the worst text in the history of the America's Cup" was addressed to these two men.

BMW Oracle spokesman, Tom Ehman, frequently mentions the fact that 7 challengers, from the last Cup, signed a letter calling the Alinghi protocol "the worst text in history." It's true, well almost true, because only 6 had signed at the time Ehman refers to, and here is what they said:

In our collective role as past Challengers and prospective Challengers, our opinion is that this Protocol is the worst text in the history of the America’s Cup and, more fundamentally, it lacks precisely the mutual consent items that are required.

The reality is that, leaving BMW Oracle aside, only two teams went on proclaiming that view for more than three weeks after the last signature had been added to that letter, on July 17, 2007. Indeed, BMW Oracle confirms that in a recent document posted on the GGYC website, which says:

Emirates Team New Zealand and Mascalzone Latino have continued to publicly oppose the protocol as grossly one-sided.

So what of the other three; what was there stance, after BMW Oracle had taken the matter to court?

Areva Challenge, signed by Dawn Riley: Riley was no longer part of Areva Challenge; it appears that she may have ceased to be part of the team before signing the letter on its behalf.
Luna Rossa, signed by Anthony Romano: On August 4, Luna Rossa said it would not take part in AC33. It was made clear that the decision had absolutely nothing to do with the Protocol.
Team Germany, signed by Michael Scheeren: On August 10, 2007, Team Germany entered AC33. Sheeren said "Despite the uncertainties around the event, we strongly believe in the path developed by ACM and the Defender, Alinghi. We intend to join the battle on the water, the only place the battle should be."

Why, in less than a month, did Scheeren go from calling the Alinghi Protocol "the worst text in history" to strongly believing in the path developed by ACM and the Defender? Why did he refer to "on the water" as being "the only place the battle should be"? The answers may lie in the final paragraph of the letter, which Scheeren and others signed. It read:

You are well aware that serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the newly created and purely instrumental entity called "Club Nautico Espanol" to advance a Challenge under the provisions of the Deed of Gift. In the sincerest hope that the America’s Cup competition will not have to endure the turmoil associated with litigating that issue, but will rather move forward with the balanced and fair procedures and protocols that have historically characterized this competition, we ask you to dissolve "Club Nautico Espanol" and withdraw your Challenge within the month of July.

"In the sincerest hope that the America’s Cup competition will not have to endure the turmoil associated with litigating that issue ....."

That, not the oft quoted "worst protocol", is the key phrase in the letter. Avoiding litigation is what the challengers wanted above all. It is also what BMW Oracle professed to want, for it signed the letter containing that statement on July 16. The final signatory (TNZ) signed on July 17. On July 20, GGYC filed a complaint in the New York Supreme Court.

Had José Ignacio Sanchez Galan and Manuel Chirivella even received the letter, before BMW Oracle took that first step towards ensuring that the competition DID endure the turmoil associated with litigation? Certainly, neither of those men had had time to consider the request in that letter before GGYC went to court.

We are unlikely to ever know how differently things might have turned out, if BMW Oracle had not acted so precipitously and had given José Ignacio Sanchez Galan and Manuel Chirivella the stated time to consider the challengers' letter, but two things are certain:
Firstly, neither Team Germany, nor Luna Rossa would have signed that letter had they known that BMW Oracle intend to go to court and use that letter in its pleadings;
Secondly, no-one can deny that asking someone - anyone - to do something by a certain date, in order to avoid litigation, then commencing litigation 11 days before that date and before they have had a chance to respond is not normal practice in any circles.

The reality is that five teams believed they were signing a letter aimed at preventing court action, but BMW Oracle went to court within days of them signing.

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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