This is supposed to happen only in Hollywood movies but it seems that Loïck Peyron and Team Energy will now have a first-hand experience of what it means to be sued in America for the most absurd issue. I have to admit I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read the story on the San Francisco Chronicle!
The complete story on the San Francisco Chronicle can be found here but we’ll give a brief account. On September the 30th, the Energy Team AC45 broke its mooring overnight and the boat drifted into San Francisco Bay. After drifting for nearly five hours, the French boat was spotted at Treasure Island by a local sailor, Todd Tholke. According to the San Francisco Chroncile article, at 3:30 a.m., Tholke pulled it off the shore with his 14-foot Boston Whaler and then towed it to the Treasure Isle Marina and handed it back to Energy Team.
But guess what? Tholke’s lawyers presented Energy Team with a warrant from U.S. District Court to “arrest” the boat and take it into custody as soon as the America’s Cup World Series event was over. Based on a law from the 1800s, Tholke’s attorney John Edgcomb said in court documents, the rescue had established “a valid maritime salvage claim” and Tholke was entitled to “a liberal maritime salvage award.” Edgcomb said the amount was up to the court, but something “in excess of $200,000.”
I’m not a lawyer and have absolutely no idea if the lawsuit is frivolous and without merit but it certainly doesn’t come at the best of times for the French team. The Peyron brothers were unable to find the necessary sponsorship to truly enter the 34th America’s Cup and as a result they are surviving until the end of the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series on a very tight budget. I strongly doubt they have the excess cash to pay $200,000 for Tholke’s “award”.
It seems it is now becoming a tradition that lawsuits, lawyers, courts and justices should always be involved in and be an integral part of an America’s Cup event. If you have spare time and want to laugh with the absurdity of the situation Bruno and Loïck Peyron are facing in San Francisco, you can access all the legal documents regarding the case here.
Unfortunately for the Peyron brothers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle article, “overall, it sounds as if this is headed for a protracted court battle.” What a pity…