Alinghi wants certificate from challenger

Updated: July 15, 2009, 8:17 PM ET
Associated Press

America's Cup champion Alinghi of Switzerland still wants to know what floats its challenger's boat.

The Swiss on Wednesday asked Justice Shirley Kornreich of the Supreme Court of the State of New York to disqualify BMW Oracle Racing unless the American challenger provides a measurement certificate for its monster trimaran within 14 days.

Alinghi's filing came a day after BMW Oracle Racing launched another round of legal skirmishing by asking Kornreich to hold Alinghi in contempt unless it follows the Racing Rules of Sailing without alterations. Kornreich is set to hear arguments from the bitter rivals on Tuesday morning in the Manhattan court, which has jurisdiction to settle America's Cup legal disputes.

Alinghi made a similar demand two months ago, and Kornreich said BMW Oracle Racing was being "slick" in not producing a Custom House Registry, a document that's now known as a Certificate of Documentation and issued by the Coast Guard.

The Swiss want to make sure the Americans have built their boat, known as BOR 90, according to the dimensions given when they issued their challenge in July 2007.

"I'm not sure the boat complies with the dimension of the challenge certificate," said New York attorney Barry Ostrager, who has represented the Swiss during a twisting two-year legal fight that established BMW Oracle Racing as the rightful challenger. "If it did, they'd just give the thing to us and be done with it, wouldn't they, and not get the judge all angry and irritated?"

Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing are scheduled to meet in a best-of-three series beginning Feb. 8 for the oldest trophy in international sports. Alinghi must announce the venue by Aug. 8.

BMW Oracle Racing spokesman Tom Ehman said the Americans expected Alinghi's filing. They'll produce the document when they're finished testing their trimaran off San Diego and are sure it's seaworthy, he said.

"It's the same old crafty argument: 'Your boat's in the water, you've got to give us the Custom House Registry,'" Ehman said. "It's just a retaliation for our filing yesterday, plain and simple."

BMW Oracle Racing's yacht, which is 90 feet long and wide, was relaunched on July 6 after being extensively modified.

Whether BOR 90 is the boat that sails against Alinghi's 90-foot catamaran, launched last week on Lake Geneva, remains to be seen. Perhaps in a bit of gamesmanship, BMW Oracle Racing won't confirm or deny reports it is building a new boat that could be the challenging yacht.

In its notice of challenge given to the Swiss on July 11, 2007, BMW Oracle Racing said its challenging yacht would be named USA. So far, BOR 90 hasn't been renamed.

Ehman did say there is considerable activity at the boatyard in Anacortes, Wash., where BOR 90 was built. The work could be on a new boat or on components for BOR 90.

Ehman said a new, longer mast was put on BOR 90 on Wednesday. The old one had been 158 feet tall.

"We don't know if this new mast is going to work or not," he said. "We think it will, but until we go sailing, you don't know. It changes the float of the boat, the measurement of the boat and other bits and pieces as well."

It also increases the sail area.

Ehman said the Swiss have claimed the right to change the rules for the match at any time without mutual consent. He also said an engine is clearly visible on the aft crossbeam of Alinghi's new catamaran, which could be used for either trimming the sails or moving water ballast from one hull to the other, in violation of sailing rules.

"If we find out they're able to change rules and put an engine on their boat and use it for moving water ballast, then we'll do some more thinking about design and construction and sea trials," Ehman said.

"They want us to have arrested development and they want to continue developing and still change the rules to suit their boat,"


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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