Americas Cup: CNEV holds regatta, but rumours that it will withdraw as COR arise

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

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Last weekend, the Club Náutico Español de Vela – recently formed to be Challenger of Record for the 33rd America’s Cup – held its first regatta in Santander. The event, a junior competition for Optimist sailors, took place during the CEAR de Vela Príncipe Felipe de Santander meeting and the winner received the Trophy Desafío Español.

Some thirty competitors, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque Country, together with one Italian took part in five races in the Bay of Santander. The organisers reported excellent sailing conditions and the winner was Italian Vittoria Raulli, followed by Simón Elmeua González of the CEAR de Santander, with Joaquin Armengot Alvarez, from the same Club in third place. The prize giving, on Sunday evening, was attended by the sailors and their parents.

This regatta – the first that the newly formed club has held – was to be followed by a second, later this month, but BYM News has received information – from a usually reliable UK source - that the Club Náutico Español de Vela intends to announce its withdrawal as Challenger of Record for the America’s Cup.

The acceptance of a challenge, from a newly formed yacht club that had not, at the time, held an annual regatta on the sea, as required under the terms of the Deed of Gift, together with the format of the Protocol agreed by the new COR, has caused a great deal of controversy, particularly amongst teams that took part in the 32nd America’s Cup.

Earlier this month, the Golden Gate Yacht Club contested the Société Nautique de Genève acceptance of the Club Náutico Español de Vela, as Challenger of Record, on the grounds that it was not from “a bona fide yacht club, but from an entity that was organized in the form of a yacht club, only a few days before the challenge was accepted by SNG and which has never had an annual regatta on the sea, or an arm of the sea, as required by the Deed of Gift.”  

The Club Náutico Español de Vela responded by saying “In connection with the official communication from the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco and without having any desire to stir controversy, just to clarify the matters referred to, the Club Náutico Español de Vela, as Challenger of Record, wishes to make the following considerations public: Concerning the supposed "invalidity" in the signed agreement, under requirements defined by the Deed of Gift, we wish to point out that there are existing State of New York antecedents that confirm that Alinghi was justified in accepting the Spanish candidacy challenge; With respect to the obligatory nature of the Challenging Club to hold a regatta in open sea waters, as demanded by the Deed of Gift, we would point out that there is no mention of whether such a regatta should take place before, or after, the acceptance of the challenge; With respect to this, we would point out that the Club Náutico Español de Vela, has organised two regattas, which will take place in Santander this month.”

The Golden Gate Yacht Club’s letter, as well as contesting the Spanish Club’s right to be COR, also put forward its own case as an alternative Challenger of Record. However, BYM News UK sources say they believe that the Royal Thames Yacht Club may have applied to become Challenger of Record, after the Club Náutico Español de Vela, but prior to the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

TeamOrigin announced that it had made a formal agreement with the Royal Thames Yacht Club to be its official Challenging Yacht Club, on June 28. The TeamOrigin statement said “The selection of a yacht club before the end of the current 32nd America’s Cup puts TeamOrigin in a strong position ahead of the programme for the 33rd America’s Cup and represents an important step forward in building the British Challenge. All Challengers to the Cup must be organised as part of a recognised yacht club that meets the qualification criteria laid out under America’s Cup rules. TeamOrigin has chosen to partner the prestigious Royal Thames Yacht Club after a careful selection process. The Royal Thames offers not only the benefits of a modern and flexible organisation, but also boasts strong historical ties to the America’s Cup. Established in 1775, the Royal Thames is the oldest Royal yacht club in Britain and was the first Challenging Yacht Club for the America’s Cup in 1870, backing the British bid with Cambria following the inaugural victory of Schooner America in 1851.”

Sir Keith Mills, who heads the TeamOrigin challenge also stressed that the Royal Thames met the deed of Gift requirements, saying: “I am very pleased to announce The Royal Thames Yacht Club’s selection as our official Challenging Yacht Club. We are required to choose a yacht club as part of our bid to win the Cup and needed to ensure that club met the necessary criteria and would give us the skills and experience we need – The Royal Thames certainly meets our requirements and we are thrilled that they are joining the TeamOrigin family. We look forward to working together closely with the club.”

Team Alinghi has already declined to comment on controversy concerning the Protocol, at this time, and a spokesman for Desafío Español, expressed surprise when asked about the rumour of CNEV withdrawal as COR, saying “I have heard nothing of that.”

Earlier today, Lara Onorato of the Mascalzone Capitalia Team, told BYM News “At present it is impossible for teams like ours to get sponsors, as we cannot give any concrete information about the venue, the timing or the boats that will contest the Cup. Without sponsors, we cannot commit ourselves to entering, as we cannot build up either a sailing or a design team. If Valencia does remain as the home port, Alinghi has said the Cup could be in 2009, so that would mean ACTs in 2008, how can we be ready for that, unless we have concrete facts very soon?”

As reported by BYM News earlier today, TeamOrigin is going ahead with plans for the 33rd America’s Cup and plans to announce its core sailing and design team at the start of the Southampton Boat Show, on September 14. The team acknowledges that the present lack of clarity on the format, timng and venue of the next event is a deterrent to getting sponsor contracts signed, but says that support from Sir Keith Mills means that it is able to go ahead with recruitment, without yet having sponsors.  

Marian Martin

Photo: Rod Carr OBE from the RYA, Sir Keith Mills and Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP at the TeamOrigin launch. Photo onEdition.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 July 2007 )