Friday, August 24, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back

BERNE, Switzerland - America's Cup holders Alinghi have accused yachting rivals BMW Oracle of holding the competition to ransom following their decision to file legal proceedings in New York.

BMW Oracle owner Larry Ellison is suing Alinghi for what he says are "unfair" rules for the running of the next America's Cup - a charge strenuously denied by the Swiss team.

"Far from being an attempt to control everything, the new protocol has been written to make the 33rd America's Cup even better," said Michel Bonnefous, president of the ACM organising body set up to run the competition on Alinghi's behalf.

"The vision is shared by many Challengers from around the world, four of whom have now formally entered the competition, with others about to do so.

"Larry Ellison is holding the Cup to ransom for competitive gain by attempting to disrupt the preparations."

Alinghi's New Zealand-born skipper Brad Butterworth attributed the US team's lawsuit to sour grapes.