Welcome to America, Loïck Peyron and Energy Team

Posted on 10 October 2012 by Valencia Sailing

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…

It’s far from smooth sailing for Energy Team… Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / America’s Cup

12 Comments For This Post

  1. ELVSTROM Says:

    I am a big fan of Energy Team. Both Bruno and Loick are swell guys. But, salvage rights are in place here. The guy has a point. If it was me I would want to be named as part of the crew or a paid consultant. They should pay him something. He could have just let it crash on the rocks.

    Now what is shocking is that Energy Team, with the plans of the Oracle 72 given to them on a silver platter, can’t find the money to build one boat. Where are the billionaires in Europe? Russia? UAE? The AC has always cost a fortune, corporate sponsorship has always been an excuse for rich men to write off the expense. Where are the rich men?
    SAP, FIAT, Lagardere…… Show us the money.

  2. Samuel Katawaki Says:

    The question is how on earth the French AC45 was adrift for 5 hours and nobody noticed it? Were they all drunk at the America’s Cup? They have boats that cost millions and can’t set up a decent mooring? That Tholke guy is an asshole but the French sailors are idiots.

  3. Mickel Zuidhoek Says:

    Reply to Elvstrom:
    Are you kidding me???? What happened to basic decency without grounds for reward? I guess this is one of the things that upsets me most about the upper echelon of the americas cup, everything comes down to the almighty dollar. I don’t believe that it is in the spirit of the ‘americas cup constitution’ to make money at every turn… but I guess this is the litigation capital of the world!!
    Go kiwis lets get this thing back where it belongs and restore some honour to this thing!!

  4. Mark Meyers Says:

    Maritime Law is what it is — just like if someone’s car is harmed in an automobile crash. Tholke is due compensation, they were foolish not to settle.

  5. Dane Says:

    Just give him the boat, he will soon give it up when he realises its of no use to him and costs a fortune to upkeep ;-)

  6. Erwan Tanguy Says:

    i don’t know where the pb came from at the beginning, but i can say (but i’m idiot as i’m french) that it can happen , i sail for more 30 years and i saw quite a lot of stupid and stange story from the sea (and i did some mistake aswell).
    So no blame when you don’t know.
    However, what is sure is that this rubbish maritime spirit can not happen in my place and i would have been very happy to sail that boat with the guys as thanking.
    A chance, i know this behavior doesn’t come from an american sailor but from a stupid idiot…

  7. Average John Says:

    Watch out what you say on the blog, you may get sued for drifting words whom may be find by some sorry sod.

  8. Patrick Says:

    What is very strange is that no single french sailing magazine has published anything on this story… They have all published in the past a lot of inside stories on all other AC teams but nothing on energyteam’s current problems. what a pity.

    Are they still journalists?

    Hopefully we have english speaking web sites such as this one…

    This story is sad anyway.


    Don’t we need to ask who was on Night Watch from the organisers of the event..?!?!?!

  10. Chainlocker Says:

    California, such an open hearted, friendly place. It is such a shame that this idiot sees nothing but dollar signs and is taking advantage of one of the last true sportsmen left in sailing.If it was Oracle or Artemis with deeper pockets than anyone else in the sport, I would laugh.But these guys are here for the love of the sport. Even with the money to build a 72, the Peyron brothers knew from the beginning that winning against the likes of the big 2 boat programs was an outside shot at best. But you can’t win if you don’t enter, and if you got the talent,why not try.
    I can only hope that the locals shame this guy and treat him like the trash he is showing himself to be.
    The sea has a way with dealing with the likes of he.

  11. Matt Says:

    How would one know if he intied the boat and brought it back! No one else saw the boat missing. I know it’s an old law but really it’s stupid. Another side show to spoil the beautiful sport of sailing.

  12. ed Says:

    What a disgrace. Only in America. Loick is one of the finest men this sport has ever seen. If this idiot yank was drowning I can guaranty that the first person that would risk his own life to save him would be Mr peyron. Tholke.. you are a disgusting, low life individual and I hope karma finds you and serves you everything you deserve.

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  1. Todd Tholke, San Francisco Sailor, Rescues America’s Cup Boat, Demands … | Says:

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