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Cup defender will forfeit if it can’t use 3DL sails

More grist from the America's Cup mill: Alinghi has threatened to take its marbles and go home if its sails are disqualified. It won't race.

"We have been clear: If BMW Oracle succeeds in disqualifying the defender's sails, then there will be no match," said Fred Meyer, vice commodore of Société Nautique de Genève, the Swiss defender's sponsoring yacht club. "Russell Coutts [BMW Oracle's CEO] will have won the America's Cup for Larry Ellison without sailing. An irony unto itself, given Russell's use of 3DL sails on every AC team he has raced with since 1995 - New Zealand, Switzerland and now the USA."

The American challenger, BMW Oracle Racing, is challenging Alinghi's sails in New York Superior Court as non-compliant with the Deed of Gift, arguing that the deed - the basic rules governing the America's Cup - says a boat, including its sails, must be made in the country of the host club. BOR claims Alinghi's 3DL sails were made at North Sails' facility in Minden, Nev.

With the clock ticking for the Cup's scheduled Feb. 8 start in Valencia, Spain, there are several other outstanding issues, as well. BOR is carrying a binocular-like laser wind sensor that measures wind speed up to 1,000 meters ahead of the boat, but Alinghi's Notice of Race, which BOR claims has been skewed to favor the defender, says this $150,000 instrument will not be permitted on the race course.

This is one of several matters at issue in a request for redress that the U.S. syndicate has brought before an International Jury even before the racing starts.

Besides the ban on wind sensors, BOR is challenging wind and wave limits in the Notice of Race that it says favor Alinghi; the reintroduction of Rule 53 - "A boat shall not eject or release a substance, such as a polymer, or have specially textured surfaces that could improve the character of the flow of water inside the boundary layer" - which BOR says the New York Supreme Court ordered deleted from the race rules; the starting times for the races, which it says must be decided by mutual consent; and giving Alinghi's "home rules" priority over the International Sailing Federation's Racing Rules where the two conflict.

BOR says it is using a variety of friction-reduction technologies on its hull.

"It is clearer than ever that SNG is hell-bent on making the America's Cup the Alinghi Cup," by manipulating the rules, says Tom Ehman, BOR's spokesman.

The laser wind sensor, manufactured by Catch the Wind Ltd., of Manassas, Va., are an adaptation of wind turbine technology developed to measure horizontal and vertical wind speed at a distance so the turbines can be oriented and adjusted for maximum efficiency before the wind arrives. The devices use the concepts of Doppler radar - with light as the medium of detection - to sense and analyze air particle movement.

Meyer, too, accuses BOR of trying to manipulate the rules in the 11th hour. "The latest flurry of legal documents and public statements from Larry Ellison's Golden Gate Yacht Club further demonstrates his overriding ambition of winning the America's Cup without racing for it on the water," he says.

If none of the above derail the Cup, organizers have announced that for the first time in the history of the Cup the best-of-three series between the two 90-foot multihulls - BOR's trimaran and Alinghi's catamaran - will be broadcast live free of charge over the Internet at The best of three series is scheduled for Feb. 8, 10 and 12, with Feb. 14-25 designated "reserve days" when they can race if weather prevents racing on the designated days.

- Jim Flannery

UPDATE (2 p.m., Jan. 29):

Justice Kornreich of the New York Supreme Court has informed Société Nautique de Genève and Golden Gate Yacht Club that she will not hear the American challenger's complaint regarding the "constructed in country" requirement of the Deed of Gift before the 33rd America's Cup, scheduled to begin Feb. 8.

That means the regatta can proceed as ordered by previous New York rulings -- in Valencia, on Feb. 8, 10 and 12.


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