Sunday, October 5, 2008

Vuitton series pours oil on troubled waters...

Source by Paul Lewis:
Emirates Team New Zealand say they are one critical point away from agreeing terms with Alinghi that could see the Swiss America's Cup holder come to Auckland for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series this summer.

It could also wrap up Team NZ's court action against Alinghi.

That one outstanding point is significant, however, as Alinghi have baulked at providing certainty the next multi-challenger America's Cup regatta will take place by 2011.

Emirates Team New Zealand chief Grant Dalton says Alinghi's response to the invitation ("drop your court case against us and we'll come") had led to offers and counter-offers.

Team NZ initiated two US court actions this year, arguing Alinghi's decision not to compromise with BMW Oracle meant Alinghi could not live up to assurances of staging the 33rd America's Cup in 2009.

Emirates Team New Zealand had been preparing for a 2009 "all-challengers" regatta based on those assurances from Alinghi. They are seeking US$37m if the regatta is delayed until 2010 and US$50m if delayed until 2011.

But now Dalton says the tide of public opinion is shifting away from court action and the Louis Vuitton series gave the chance for the two teams to settle their differences.

Team NZ had looked at all possible permutations arising from whoever wins the Alinghi-Oracle court case which has plagued the Cup for the last year and a half. From those permutations, they put a series of conditions to Alinghi.

If Alinghi fulfilled those conditions, he said, Team NZ would drop its court actions. The Swiss had responded positively to all except the "certainty" clause.

"That's what it has been about for us and for the other challengers - certainty," says Dalton. "We need to know what will be happening around the next America's Cup; that there is an absolute date of 2011." Read more... Photo / Janna Dixon