Archive | January, 2008

What is this?

Posted on 31 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

What is the vessel that appears in the photo? A trimaran, a catamaran or a keel boat? At least two things are certain, she is motor boat and she arrived in Valencia yesterday.

Concerning last week’s quiz, one of our readers posted the correct answer. It was the deck of the brand new GP42 under construction at the Décision boatyard in Switzerland.

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BMW Oracle sends Justice Cahn a letter; Alinghi replies by sending another letter

Posted on 31 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

Just when it seemed that Monday, January 28 was the deadline for the two litigating parties to submit their documents in the NY Supreme Court, we have yet another two letters sent to Justice Cahn.

First, BMW Oracle sent Justice Cahn a letter on Tuesday, replying to Alinghi’s documents submitted on Monday. Then, on Wednesday, Alinghi replies to BMW Oracle’s reply by sending Justice Cahn another letter. Without going further into legal details, both letters focus once again on whether BMW Oracle’s challenge is valid.

Both letters are accessible through the box at the top of this article.

We also publish, albeit belatedly, an interview Tom Ehman gave NZ Sport Radio last week, shortly after the hearing at the NY Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we only got the MP3 file of the radio interview yesterday. GGYC’s spokesman talked about the hearing and the litigation and reiterated his team’s commitment to hold a conventional 34th America’s Cup here in Valencia in 2011, if of course they win the 33rd edition of the event. There have been increasing fears here in Valencia, especially among local politicians, that Larry Ellison, owner of the team, might use some last-minute excuse and take the Cup to San Fransisco, hometown of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

You can listen to the 6:40 minute interview through the usual media player:

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Valencia Sailing talks to Grant Simmer

Posted on 30 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

Last Thursday Valencia Sailing visited the Alinghi base and talked to Grant Simmer, managing director and design coordinator of the Defender of the 33rd America’s Cup. Our interest was of course the hearing that had taken place in New York 3 days earlier (January 23rd) and more specifically Alinghi’s claim that “multihulls” and “keel yachts” are two incompatible types of vessels. The interview doesn’t of course take into consideration the documents submitted this week. It’s quite long but very interesting.

Valencia Sailing: So far during the legal battle Valencia Sailing has avoided taking any sides and tried to be as objective and neutral as possible. Still, after reading your arguments in the hearing and especially the letter from Jerome Pels (ISAF secretary general), I don’t feel convinced. I even think that Mr Pels writes that the terms “multihull” and “keel yacht” are not contradictory. Is that so?
Grant Simmer: You are wrong and I’ll tell you why. The term keel yacht or keel boat describes a type of sailing boat. Other than a lawyer trying to make an argument in New York, everybody that is involved in sailing knows what a keel yacht is and a multihull isn’t a keel yacht. It’s as simple as that. It’s not to say that a multihull can’t have a keel attached to it or that there might have been some cruising multihulls with keel attached to them but they are not keel yachts. They are vessels that have a small keel. Take for example the pictures GGYC showed, a bunch of cruising catamarans or trimarans with small keels so that they can be beached or so that they can have a tank underneath the hull. This doesn’t make it a keel yacht.

Let me tell you why it’s important. In the old days, when somebody challenged for the America’s Cup, they had to describe the vessel they were going to challenge in. That’s why you have to submit a certificate of the vessel. You tell the Defender, “we are going to challenge you in a vessel that looks like this, a yacht that looks like this”. In the early days, the New York Yacht Club used to say, “you have to tell us exactly the beam of the vessel, the waterline length, what type of boat it is, is it a keel yacht or a centerboard?” Then the NY Yacht Club would either design a boat or pick one out of its fleet in order to race the challenger’s vessel. That’s how it was until we started having classes of boats in the America’s Cup. What they have done is that they haven’t described the vessel at all.

Valencia Sailing: How detailed must this description be according to the Deed of Gift?
Grant Simmer: The reason for providing the certificate is to describe the vessel, not to disguise the vessel. Even last night, Tom Ehman said on the steps of the court, “I promise you the boat will have a keel”. What does this say about the boat that is going to challenge us to win the America’s Cup? What does it tell us?

Valencia Sailing: It tells you it’s going to have a keel. Isn’t that enough?
Grant Simmer: Is it a keel yacht, is it a trimaran, a catamaran, what does this vessel actually look like? Does anybody know?

Valencia Sailing: But isn’t this the challenger’s prerogative? You are asking them to reveal the boat not just describe it.
Grant Simmer: It’s a fundamental issue, a fundamental legal argument. We believe the challenger has to describe its boat in order for the Defender to prepare for the match. So, they have to do that when they present their challenge and give you a ten-month warning. That’s how it works. If that’s not true then the whole argument doesn’t matter. Why submit any certificate at all? Why not just say, “see you in ten months”?

Valencia Sailing: I will come back to my previous question. How detailed must this description be according to the Deed of Gift?
Grant Simmer: If you read our argumentation you’ll see that the person that wrote the Deed actually said, the reason for providing a certificate of vessel is so that the Defender understands the nature and details of the vessel the challenger is proposing to race. If you go back historically and look at it, there is a lot of arguing about how they measure the waterline, whether the boat had the correct waterline length they specified. For instance, SNG will need to measure this boat they will challenge with, to see it complies with the certificate. SNG will have to appoint measurers that will actually measure the boat to see whether it agrees with the certificate. This is what the NY Yacht Club used to do.

Valencia Sailing: Let’s consider again the letter of Jerome Pels. He states that “multihulls” and “keel boats” are indeed incompatible but limits that to the Olympic classes. What we have here is the America’s Cup, not the Olympics. Mr Pels doesn’t explicitly say that these two terms are contradictory in the America’s Cup. In my view he leaves a window wide open.
Grant Simmer: It’s fundamental that when you challenge you describe your vessel and nobody, nobody, describes a multihull as a keel yacht. Why say it’s a keel yacht when you meant to say it’s a multihull, unless you want to be deceptive, you want to deceive the Defender on the details of the boat? Why do you say that your multihull is a keel boat? What’s the point of it?

Valencia Sailing: It could be a multihull with a keel or keels.
Grant Simmer: A keel yacht is a descriptive term. I’ll give you an example. I’m going yacht racing and I have a TP52. I say it’s motor yacht, my TP52 is a motor boat. Would you describe a TP52 as a motor boat? It has a motor, so it’s a motor boat. If you want to enter your TP52 in a regatta, would you ever say, “I’m entering a motor boat”?

Valencia Sailing: The TP52 class is an established one with a well established rule.
Grant Simmer: OK, I’m going in the Sydney Hobart race where you have a whole range of yachts and I pretend I’m entering the race in a motor boat. According to GGYC’s logic I am, because I have a boat that has a motor in it. So, tell me what the difference is. If our interpretation is correct, on why you have to describe your vessel when you put a certificate of vessel, then they haven’t described it, they are purposely trying to be misleading.

Let me tell you something that started their problems. Once SNG tries to measure the vessel, to see whether it complies with the certificate they are going to have some difficult issues, particularly measuring waterline beam.

Valencia Sailing: Why?
Grant Simmer: If you look at the regulations in regard to multihull yachts, the normal description is the beam of the hull.

Valencia Sailing: Do you feel confident now after the hearing?
Grant Simmer: It’s a legal process, it will be ongoing, for sure. That’s the unfortunate situation we are in.

Valencia Sailing: Why didn’t you bring up that issue earlier? GGYC claims you had no doubts about the nature of the yacht.
Grant Simmer: Right now, we have written them a letter saying we can’t accept their challenge because we have a valid challenger which is the CNEV and until we get a court order telling us not to accept the CNEV challenge we don’t have to accept their challenge. At the moment, we still legally have a current challenger.

Valencia Sailing: You are right, but it’s a matter of days before the CNEV is declared an invalid challenger. You will then have to accept their challenge.
Grant Simmer: You are assuming the judge is going to make that order.

Valencia Sailing: I assume it based on his decision last November, I am not making any wild speculation! Assuming his order is not different from his decision, on that particular issue, CNEV has a handful of days left as a valid challenger. You will then have to accept GGYC’s challenge.
Grant Simmer: He might also order that their challenge is invalid as well. One outcome is that he might provide a court order saying that CNEV is not a valid Challenger of Record because of the timing of their annual regatta and GGYC is not the Challenger of Record either because their challenge documents are invalid. That would be a good ruling for us.

Valencia Sailing: What will happen in that case? Will Team Origin be the Challenger of Record?
Grant Simmer: It could be. There is a couple of options. We will then go ahead with a multiple-challenger America’s Cup in 2011, on AC90′s here in Valencia. Same thing to what the 32nd America’s Cup was, with the new rules we created last year.

Valencia Sailing: What will happen if Justice Cahn orders that the CNEV is not a valid challenger but that the GGYC is a valid one?
Grant Simmer: We said last night that we would appeal that decision.

Valencia Sailing: Isn’t this stalling tactics from your side just to gain more time?
Grant Simmer: Not really because the best outcome for us is to get on with a challenger that shares the same vision with us about what the next America’s Cup should be. We will then go ahead and run a regatta, better than what the 32nd America’s Cup was. I don’t think it’s in the interest of the America’s Cup to watch two teams race massive multihulls. I mean it might be interesting technically and visually but the racing wouldn’t be very exciting. I don’t think there is a lot of people thinking this is a good solution for the America’s Cup.

Valencia Sailing: In the meantime, are you going ahead with training onboard the two Extreme 40 catamarans?
Grant Simmer: Obviously, we have to prepare for that. We have to prepare ourselves for a multihull challenge. This is why we bought the Extreme 40′s. This also why the design team has stopped working on the AC90 and started working on multihulls.

Valencia Sailing: You just stated that in the best interest of the America’s Cup the ideal solution would be a regatta very similar to the 32nd edition here in Valencia, with the new rules you wrote last year. Why didn’t you then settle with BMW Oracle early last November when they had dropped most of their initial demands and agreed to the Protocol with slight changes?
Grant Simmer: You have to look a little bit more at the history. Originally they said, “change the Protocol and we’ll enter”. We changed the Protocol but they didn’t enter. Then they said, “change the boat and we’ll enter”. We changed a fundamental feature of the boat and they didn’t enter. Next thing, “change the format of racing and we’ll enter”. We kept clarifying the solution.

Now they have 3 issues still pending. The first one is to hold the race in 2009 and not 2011. They are the only team that kept designing AC90′s, they are the only team that is tank testing, they are the only team with enough money to keep going with all this uncertainty.

The second issue is two-boat testing, they want two-boat testing, and the last one is the format of racing. These are fundamental issues!

Take 2009 versus 2011. We need to raise sponsorship, the event needs to raise sponsorship, so does every other team that wants to compete. At the moment all the other teams are basically stopped because of their legal action. They are the only team that kept going, they are the only team with 40 cars parked in front of the base every day.

The next issue is two-boat testing. Why do they want that? Because it’s bloody expensive and that is the way you can develop these boats, particularly a new class. So if you have the most money, you want two-boat testing for sure.

Finally, they don’t want us to compete with the other challengers in the elimination series, which was fundamental to the documents we presented last summer.

Valencia Sailing: Obviously, but if you allow two-boat testing then there is no need for you to race with the challengers.
Grant Simmer: We offered all the other challengers that. We would have two-boat testing without competing in the series. Either you allow Alinghi two-boat testing and the challengers race themselves or you prohibit two-boat testing but you allow us to race through the semifinals. What you can’t do is prohibit two-boat testing and keep us out of the elimination series. I’m sure BMW Oracle would want that because it would make us completely uncompetitive. The first time we would have raced an AC90 boat would be in the America’s Cup match itself! It’s ridiculous.

Valencia Sailing: If you could miraculously turn back the clock, is there anything you would have done differently since last June?
Grant Simmer: I think we didn’t sell the protocol properly. That was seen badly and was addressed with the changes in the protocol we made in September. The CNEV had stated they would only act in the majority interest of the challengers. When we were in the meetings, Jonh Cutler (technical director of Desafío Español) would only act in the majority of challengers. They weren’t trying to screw the rest of challengers, they were working in the interest of everybody else.

Valencia Sailing: If after all the legal process is through and you finally have to accept a multihull challenge from BMW Oracle when would you rather have the race?
Grant Simmer: Certainly 2009 is the best option for us. We don’t want to race next October but they do since they are a long way ahead. You don’t design and build one of these big boats in an instant. It’s a long process. We believe they are quite well progressed with the construction of the boat which has a keel. We think they are somewhere along the line with construction or they have already built the molds. You have to ask them.

Definitely, they are ahead of us because they started last July. We were in contact with Marc Van Peteghem in July when he told us he was working for another team. There’s only one other team! So, he had to be working for them which he was. We only started working on the design of the multihull in the middle of December. Up until the judgment we were pretty much convinced we were going to win the court case.

Valencia Sailing: So a race in October 2008 is your worst case scenario.
Grant Simmer: No, a race in July 2008 is even worse! The positive side is that the boats are exciting but as I said it’s in nobody’s interest to have an America’s Cup with two teams. That’s why if they are found to be invalid we can move forward and run an event in 2011. In that case they would probably appeal but the appeal could go in the background and I don’t think their case would be very strong.

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Alinghi submits further evidence to support its claim GGYC challenge is invalid

Posted on 28 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Alinghi] (New York, Monday 28 January) Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), the 33rd America’s Cup defending yacht club, submitted further evidence to the New York Supreme Court today in support of a court order declaring the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) challenge invalid.

This submission, which Justice Cahn invited on the 23 January, demonstrates through expert testimony that a “keel yacht” cannot be categorised as a multi-hull, as implied in the ambiguous and contradictory GGYC challenge certificate.

The challenge certificate is a critical document required under the Deed of Gift that provides the Defender with an accurate description of the challenging vessel, while allowing at least 10 months to design and build the defending yacht.

In its certificate, the GGYC describes its challenging vessel as a “keel yacht”, a term used in the sailing world to distinguish from multi-hulls, however the GGYC are saying that they propose to challenge in a multi-hull. Under the Deed of Gift, GGYC must race in the vessel described in its certificate. Any ambiguity or confusion means non-compliance with the Deed of Gift and therefore renders the certificate and challenge invalid.

“The level of scrutiny being applied to the GGYC certificate must be equal to the level applied to the requirements of a yacht club to become Challenger of Record as per the Deed of Gift,” says Lucien Masmejan, lead counsel for SNG. He adds: “It was the GGYC’s decision to bring and to keep this matter in court thus obliging the SNG, as trustee, to defend the integrity of the America’s Cup through all available means.”

Looking ahead to the 33rd America’s Cup, SNG and Alinghi maintain their long standing goal of holding a multi-challenge event in 2011 in Valencia along with the 12 other entered challengers who subscribe to the rules and regulations presented in November 2007.

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Barcelona World Race: Close battle for third place

Posted on 28 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Barcelona World Race] The fight to get on the podium in Barcelona is intensifying as Mutua Madrileña has taken more miles out of Temenos II over the past 24 hours. At one stage overnight, the delta was down to just 20 miles, before Temenos II stretched away again.

This afternoon, just 44 miles separate the two boats after 79 days of racing. That’s close enough that just one small mistake in the variable South Atlantic weather could be the difference maker. Although they’ve left the Southern Ocean, the pressure hasn’t eased at all for these two competitors.

“We haven’t been able to relax at all,” said Michèle Paret this afternoon. “It’s been very stormy weather, very difficult for the past 24 hours. We’re manoeuvring all the time and really getting quite tired of this pace. I can’t wait to get out of here.”

Pressure is coming from behind where Mutua Madrileña is ensuring there is no time to relax: “Last night we caught up a lot to Temenos II and we woke up with them ahead by just 36 miles,” explained Javier Sansó. “They went a bit more westerly and it was a very good strategic move and now they are sailing to windward of us. He gained a bit this morning because we are going through a lot of squalls. The forecasts aren’t very accurate in here but overnight we should have the wind going east and increasing to 8 to 12 knots and that should take us up to the doldrums. By this time tomorrow we should be on starboard tacking making nice progress north at 10 knots – I hope!”

The battle at the head of the fleet is much closer as well, with Hugo Boss having gained over 300 miles since Friday afternoon. The black boat is now less than 550 miles behind race leading Paprec-Virbac 2. But with the doldrums looming ahead, Hugo Boss isn’t expecting to keep up this recent pace of impressive gains.

“We’ll slow up tomorrow or the next day when we hit the doldrums but I think it will still compress a bit,” Andrew Cape said today. “We’ve both been pretty slow and it’s complex for both of us so we’ll see. I think it’ll get better but probably not enough.”

Complex weather is exactly what Paprec-Virbac 2 is facing. Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick said he and co-skipper Damian Foxall are still uncertain about their next move: “The situation is not easy and there are still a lot of miles to gain or lose.”

Educación sin Fronteras continues its steady pace at the back of the fleet. The fifth place boat is averaging about 10 knots, while steadily posting 240 mile days in the South Atlantic.

Day 79 – January 28, 14:00 GMT - Position report with distance to leader

1. PAPREC-VIRBAC 2 – Jean Pierre DICK / Damian FOXALL – 2660 to finish
2. HUGO BOSS – Alex THOMSON / Andrew CAPE – 546
3. TEMENOS 2 – Dominique Wavre / Michele PARET- 1638
4. MUTUA MADRILENA – Javier SANSO / Pachi RIVERO – 1682
5. EDUCACION SIN FRONTERAS – Servane ESCOFFIER / Albert BARGUES – 2931

Abandoned – VEOLIA ENVIRONNEMENT – Roland JOURDAIN / Jean Luc NELIAS
Abandoned – ESTRELLA DAMM – Guillermo ALTADILL / JONATHAN MCKEE
Abandoned – DELTA DORE – Jérémie BEYOU / Sidney GAVIGNET
Abandoned – PRB – Vincent Riou / Sebastien JOSSE

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What is this?

Posted on 26 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

Here’s a short quiz for the weekend. What racing yacht is the one appearing in the photo?

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Barcelona World Race: Paprec-Virbac keeps leaping ahead

Posted on 24 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Barcelona World Race] Paprec-Virbac 2′s great “Trade Winds escape” continues, and the Franco-Irish duet has gained a whopping 169 miles over the past 24 hours. The situation is still tactically uncomplicated for Hugo Boss, but despite the “lovely conditions” described by Alex today, things could be a bit better as speeds stay in the lower range, while things remain unsettling on the rudder front. During the night, Temenos II made a move to the west and has reduced the lateral gap with Mutua Madrileña, but as predicted Dominique and Michèle dramatically slowed down today. The two boats fighting for third place now have to face a very unclear weather situation.

“It’s always very tiring to be struggling to make progress in light airs”, said Michèle Paret today, “we have to constantly trim the sails, and the fact that it’s now very hot doesn’t exactly help either.” Obviously, the situation has radically changed for Temenos II, who yesterday was still storming along under spinnaker – but things nevertheless don’t look too bad. “We followed the wind last night, and we ended up this morning north of Mutua Madrileña, which is good but not intentional, since we don’t have any position reports at night, we were not trying to control them. Logically, we should be the first to come out of that high pressure zone, but the weather files are notably unreliable these days, the situation is very complicated”, said Michele, echoing what Javier Bubi Sanso had previously explained.

“I’m pulling my hair out trying to figure out how it all will evolve”, said the Spanish skipper, who commented on yesterday’s tactical move: “We gybed to get away from the hole, it went really well and we gained more miles on Temenos II”. The battle is as exciting as ever between the two crews, but today Michèle sounded very confident and positive about the outcome – it’s a matter of finding a little passage to get out in first position, and Mutua Madrileña is bound to slow down in the next hours anyway… Steel nerves and tactical lucidity will be the key factors during the next 24 to 48 hours for the crews, as gaining just half a knot of boat speed proves at the same time crucial and extremely demanding when the wind does not exceed 6 to 7 knots.

Surely Alex Thomson and Andrew Cape can relate to that, as Hugo Boss is still slogging along at 7,5 knots while Paprec-Virbac 2 is roughly twice as fast. The “Men in Black”, as Jean-Pierre Dick calls them, lose around 15 miles every two hours, and there simply isn’t anything they can do about it. “It’s a straight line job, we’re at the top of the high and it’s very simple”, said Alex who could have added “and very frustrating”. As mentioned yesterday, Hugo Boss still experiences rudder problems which do not seem to be easily fixed on board. “We repaired it again”, explained the skipper, before admitting that things did not really improve – the crew faces a big challenge, considering a substantial part of the port rudder blade is missing.

In quotes, Michèle Paret, Temenos II
“I miss the south already because the life is more flat here, it is less emotional in the south all your emotions are close to the surface and everything is so exciting, more stressful it is very different. Now it is a lot less exciting, the further north I go the more I miss the south. Simply an intensity of life that you have down there and not comparable to anything else, and the more I will go to the north the ‘flatter’ life will get. And the south is another planet, you are far from everything – your emotions, life in general is totally different in a totally different world- and it is a lifestyle I like.”

Albert Bargués, Educacion Sin Fronteras
“The only way to get to do things is based on hard work, putting in effort is what produces results in everything and not just sailing. You can be good at what you do but you have to be constant and stubborn to carry something through. It is the work of every day that pays off.”

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America’s Cup: NY court case “factbox” 23 January 2008

Posted on 24 January 2008 by Valencia Sailing

For the convenience of our readers we publish today a brief “factbox” with the documents that were presented during or before yesterday’s hearing in the New York Supreme Court before Justice Cahn. All these documents concern Alinghi’s motion against Justic Cahn’s decision, on the grounds that the certificate of the challenging boat presented by GGYC is not valid. According to Alinghi, in brief, BMW Oracle states it will challenge with a keel yacht but its dimensions correspond to a multihull. Always according to Alinghi, a keel yacht and multihull are two incompatible notions.

We first present Alinghi’s documents, since they presented the motion that puts in question the validity of GGYC’s challenge. Valencia Sailing makes no claim whatsoever that the list is exhaustive nor does it endorse any of these documents.

Alinghi
The Defender, in addition to the normally expected affirmations and counter arguments to GGYC’s documents or claims, presented a letter from Jerome Pels, secretary general of the ISAF. In his letter, Pels gave his interpretation of the definition of keel yachts and multihulls. According to Alinghi, “SNG’s submissions will be supported by the interpretation from the International Sailing Federation which was presented to the court”.

BMW Oracle
In our opinion, the most important document the Americans presented was the affirmation of their lawyer Gina Petrocelli. In that very long document (104 pages!!!), Petrocelli argues against Alinghi’s claims and presents a long list of exhibits to corroborate her arguments. In our view, the most interesting part are the 12 photos of various multihull yachts with keels (as Petrocelli claims). Since these photos were taken off various websites then printed and scanned they are of extremely bad quality in the PDF document. As a result, we reproduce the entire list of all 12 links to the original photos.

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