Question Time

BYM News kicked of the questions, with one for Brad Butterworth: “GGYC says 18 months isn't enough time to develop boats to a 90' monohull rule, but is happy developing a 90' multihull in 10 months. Why does your proposed new boat need a longer development time?”

“It doesn’t.” Butterworth replied, then enlarged “Look at the challenge from Golden Gate; if you wanted to be on the start line for their proposal you’d have had to start before the last cup had finished. We, as a group, couldn’t contemplate putting a catamaran on the start line next June, as a viable defender, there’s just not enough time.

Build time for the 90 footer will be 5 months, we are just getting together with the challengers to iron out the rule, so there’s plenty of time.

We want to have cup within 2 years, because it’s going to keep the life in it and interest up. There’s plenty of time to get these 90 footers going and sail them, with enough time to get a good regatta.

Can you tell us about the course and rules for the catamaran challenge?

Hamish Ross: No, we are not focussing on this catamaran challenge at all. Alinghi and ACM are concentrating on a 90 foot monohull race for the America’s Cup, in 2009. I and the lawyers in New York will deal with any proceedings and the sailors, designers of Alinghi and ACM will focus on 2009.

The protocol seems to be more of a discussion now. Why wasn’t it originally?

Hamish Ross: Brad and I agree with you, but that’s nothing new. In the past, there have always been a lot of changes along the way.

Why aren’t the officials going to be independant?

Hamish Ross: Last time the race officials were fantastic, these are the people who officiate at all the big events, as umpires, sailing jury and so on, the same people who officiated at AC 32. There’s really no difference this time, other than we are short cutting a few things, to get things done, because we have less time to do it. What we’ve been accused of, by our friends across the water, is of things that might happen, that could happen, rather that actually will happen.

BYM News: “At the recent Farr Worlds, Alinghi got more bad press, first for protesting Tom Ehman chairing the jury and second by not attending the prize giving. You’ve even been accused of snubbing royalty! Can you explain?”

Brad Butterworth: “I’d be happy to explain. It was all my fault, would you believe. When we got to the Farr Worlds, I saw that Tom was chairman of the jury. So, I said to myself, there’s got to be a conflict of interest, because he’s just written this dissertation against Alinghi and the principals of it, I mean myself and Ernesto, so I went to him and asked him to stand down and he refused. So I went to the president of the class and said I wasn’t happy and asked him to do something about it. That was in the pre-worlds, before the worlds started and nothing happened, so I wrote him a letter and gave it to him at the briefing for the Worlds.

The outcome was that at a meeting they decided that Tom would stay on, but he would step away from any protest that involved Alinghi and he would not be an on the water judge. I didn’t have a problem with that, it was a case of that’s fine, let’s move on.

As for the prize giving, I didn’t go to the last one either, but that’s no excuse. I had dinner with the Prince several times and Ernesto saw him quite a lot and we had some great evenings with Vincenzo Onorato, who deserved to win it. We have great photos of Ernesto congratulating Vincenzo on the day, he was really happy for him, because he deserved it. It was a great competition, with a lot of good friends.

That’s as it was. Who this (other version) has been motivated by I don’t know, but I doubt it’s members of the press; someone with vested interests, probably.”

Is CNEV a sham?

Hamish Ross: The Spanish Challenge is not a sham, or some new thing, they were fourth in the last America’s Cup. They are a very credible team, which is one of the reasons they are Challenger of Record. 

For the 32nd America’s Cup, Desafío Español represented the Spanish sailing community, through the Federation, and it was decided to create a new club, to capture the essence of Spanish sailing; all Spanish sailing. This new Club is chaired by the Vice Chairman of the Spanish Sailing Federation. BMW Oracle Racing are attempting to undermine the challenge on two counts, both of which are erroneous.

BYM News: Yesterday, the contract with Valencia was signed. What happens if ACM can't fulfil the contract as a result of the court case?

Michel Hodara: Obviously, this is an issue that the people from Valencia are fully aware; they know there is a case in New York. However, we all have the same goal, we all want to work our way out of deadlock. We’ll have to sit down again with them, if we have to.

Hamish Ross: The important thing to remember is that we as defenders and Michel Hodara and his team at ACM are working together so that the  33rd America’s Cup will be held in 2009, with all the plans we worked out together, and with all the other competitors working together to proceed on that basis. This side show, in New York, is my responsibility, with White and Case, and meanwhile these guys will continue working to improve on the wonderful results we had from the America’s Cup last time.

How many competitors do you expect?

Michel Hodara: As I said earlier, with the latest entry from Team Germany, we now have six competitors and we are talking with about a dozen more countries, including some who have previously entered. Of course, they want to be reassured and we are going to reassure them. We are working towards the competition, in 2009.

Why is Alinghi to compete in the Challenger Series?

Hamish Ross: To cut the cost of competing we have put in place the one boat at a time rule. What are we supposed to do, if we sit out the challenger series, sail one boat at a time? If they want to talk about fairness, they need to make the choice, either let us sail in the challenger series, with some built in fairness rule, or allow us to sail two boats, when they can’t. If we’d chosen the latter, we’d have heard squeals from here to Valencia. so we chose the former, as the fairest and most reasonable way to go, and, probably the best for the fans, as it should produce more interesting sailing.

BYM News: Last year ACM ruffled the feathers of a number web journalists & bloggers, by limiting accreditation, one actually said “I’m not going to bother going I’ll just sit at home and drop bombs on ACM.” This has led to a lot of anti ACM/Alinghi comments on the internet, which have escalated via forums and the Ehman affidavit drew the court’s attention to some of this. Is the judge likely be influenced by it?

Hamish Ross: I hope not. Justice Cahn will be hearing the case in New York and he’s a very senior commercial court judge, in the Supreme Court of New York. He has an interesting personal life background, he’s very able and one of oldest judges on the bench. He comes with a great reputation, in terms of trying to explore whether the parties can agree before he has to write a decision. Our attorneys, White and Case, are very happy that he has the case, because he is a very fair judge to deal with.

So, will it influence the judge? I believe it will not. I mean, what is to run the America’s Cup, is it to rely on blogs and scribblings on the internet wall? If the trustees were to respond to such things and administer the America’s Cup because of scribblings on the wall, or people filing blogs; the competitors would be right to take us to court.

Can you sum up the impact of the court case?

Hamish Ross: It’s a legal ambush by one party and totally self serving. The fact is we have six competitors, including Alinghi, lined up for the 33rd America’s Cup and it’s a distraction for them and for the America’s Cup, which those who have entered want to make bigger and better than the last one. It’s even more damaging for those who haven’t been able to enter yet, because the climate of uncertainty prevents them getting sponsorship and building their teams. The 32nd America’s Cup saw the best action on the water and that is what we want for the 33rd America’s Cup.

Brad Butterworth: I would just love to see Golden Gate in the competition, because Russell sat out the last one and he should be in this game, he’s one of the best in this game and Larry is one of the titans of US business and he should be in this 90 foot race. I’m sure he’d love to be in it. If only we could find some way to get them to stop this legal thing, this distraction.

In part two from the Alinghi briefing; counsel Hamish Ross talks about The Court Case
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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