Monday, February 25, 2008

Going, going ... Gone(t)

Well, it's over, even before it began.

Mr. Nicolas Gonet has (reluctantly) withdrawn his D35 entry from this year's event on Lake Geneva, depriving navigator Russell Coutts (NZL) of BMW Oracle Racing (BOR)'s involvement, and assuring that everything hums along, in a civil manner, on the cold water lake.

All the members of Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) apparently are now more comfortable than they were when the news was announced.

D35 on Lake Geneva is a special event for owner sailors. They created and shaped the event for fun, great sailing, and friendly competition.

That will continue, and if reports are true, without Bank Gonet's entry.

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), a club member and D35 competitor was shown great sympathy by the sailing community.

We don't know if BOR's involvement was anything more than just a little financial support for Russell's fun on the lake.

Anyhow, good luck to SNG club members. Best wishes to Ernesto and his team. And perhaps Mr. Gonet will be encouraged to re-enter, and his fellow club members will welcome him back.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Honor (real or faux?), gentlemanly restraint, and much more to come on Lake Geneva

Above, we see Bank Gonet's D35 multihull on Lake Geneva.

Who is Gonet? Read on.

Valencia Sailing today reported news from Alinghi (SUI) about the D35 multihull competition held among the rich and well-heeled on Lake Geneva, under auspices of several clubs, including guess who -- Société Nautique de Genève (SNG).

For those of you who haven't been paying attention to sporting events on Lake Geneva (which includes most of us), this is a multihull contest for a gold prize, which SNG club member Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) won in 2007 -- the so-called Bol d'Or, a prize that 10 boats, owned mostly by SNG members, compete for over eight events.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Nicolas Gonet, scion of the multi-generational Swiss private bank Gonet, one of those magnificently private Swiss banks, famous for money, subtle power and utter discretion, and in Gonet's case, winner of the Bol d'Or prize in 2006, is planning to introduce BMW Oracle Racing into the D35 lake racing circuit in 2008.


Gonet's navigator is Russell Coutts (NZL), for crying out loud. The D35 is a multihull. And BMW Oracle Racing is a concept that couldn't be more alien to this elegant, aristocratic, Swiss cold water event.

This is Lake Geneva. The Swiss elite. Private Swiss banks. SNG. Ernesto, himself.

And here comes ... LARRY!

According to the Alinghi news machine, Ernesto protests -- in a pin-stripe kind of way -- his fellow club member Nicolas Gonet's initiative to introduce BMW Oracle Racing to the elite circuit.

Ernesto professes concern that an enemy of SNG is joining the circuit. After all, Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), host club of Larry Ellison (USA)'s BMW Oracle Racing America's Cup Team, is currently engaged in litigation against SNG in Justice Herman Cahn's New York Supreme Court .

Yet Ernesto avers he will not protest.

This situation, he says, magnanimously, must be resolved 'on the water'.

Holy moley!!!

This is a whopper. We have only scant information. More to come!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Right ways, and wrong ways

Few would doubt that the New York York Yacht Club (NYYC) would make a fine mega-trustee for the America's Cup.

But I'm sure even Commodore Charles Townsend, his board and NYYC members would agree: if we want to rule, we'd better form a team, build a boat and win the Cup.

Interestingly, Malin Burnham of San Diego and Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) are both on the same page. Both want the NYYC involved in the Cup's future.

But Ernesto is the legitimate defender. He approached NYYC to discuss the Protocol, the event and its evolution -- with standing and honor.

Perhaps those who have a reason to be there should endorse Ernesto's initiative and find a way to join the discussions. That would be in the letter and spirit of the Cup.

The alternative? Piracy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sounds like hijacking

The famous Malin Burnham, San Diego sailor, businessman and civic leader, who helped organize San Diego Yacht Club's America's Cup defenses from 1988 through 1995 and managed Dennis Connor's successful challenge in Australia in 1986-87, has come to the rescue of the America's Cup.

Let's hijack the event, he says.

Let's have New York Yacht Club petition the New York Supreme Court to corrupt the Deed of Gift and allow the legal defender (Société Nautique de Genève) only one right -- namely, to enter the next event.

Then, let's take America's Cup Management -- actually let's corrupt that, too -- and let's make it a non-profit organization. Let's stuff the board of directors with heavyweight worthies from all previous defenders, plus a member or two from each of the new challengers.

Let's give the new organization all the rights for everything, presumably now and forever, and let them do whatever they want, whenever they like, for whatever reason, just like the Olympics.


Here is an idea that advocates assumption of the dictatorship of the event, displacing the Prince of Alinghi, Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), and reinvesting it with a group of individuals, most of them veteran AC officials, under some vague and ill-defined authority that owes more to Captain Jack Sparrow of Disneyland than it does to the late, lamented and honorable George L. Schuyler.

Is nothing sacred?

Corrupting America's Cup because Ernesto ran away with it doesn't repair the damage.

That sounds eerily like 'we have to destroy this village in order to save it.'

Friday, February 1, 2008

America's Cup is dead.

Nothing about America's Cup is happening.

It's a weird world of lawyers, cat designers, Ernesto (Bertarelli, SUI)'s silence, Larry (Ellison, USA)'s silence, and total silence from Brad Butterworth (NZL) and Russell Coutts (NZL), who are the uber-hired guns of Ernesto and Larry.

And we have heard nothing meaningful from their attorneys.

AC sailors and their families are thinking about educating their children, looking for alternative forms of revenue, praying for a resolution, and if they are lucky, preparing to sail big fat useless cats, trimarans or barges. But nobody knows for sure.

What we do know for sure is this:

(1) Ernesto never raised any kind of money to stage any kind of America's Cup 33.

(2) Period. (Full stop, for the rest of you.)

(3) That's the real reason why AC33 isn't happening in a dignified way.

(4) That's also why Ernesto has retreated to the courts, and has curiously and mysteriously disappeared and gone underground (where? The Alps? Martinique? South America?).

(5) Larry's team injected a multihull into their protest as a threat to force Ernesto to respond seriously, but as we subsequently discovered, Ernesto wasn't serious. Or actually was ultra canny.

(6) Ernesto called Golden Gate Yacht Club (USA)'s bluff.

(7) Now, maybe GGYC's language (about keels, hulls and barges) has thrown an unnecessary wrench into the works.

(8) Maybe catmarans are going to be it for AC33. Maybe not.

(9) Everything has warped into a weird world, and the rest of us are watching what happens on ValenciaSailing and Scuttlebutt and GGYC and Sail-world, rather than following what should really be happening on these sites which is about those big, beautiful boats being built for AC33.

(10) The sad fact is, America's Cup is in worse shape than ever.

(11) This huge, powerful event basically doesn't exist.

(12) It's dead.

(13) We may fuss about it. We may worry about it. We may blog about it. But the rest of the world actually has moved on -- legitimate journalists have removed America's Cup from their websites, focused on other sports, and gone elsewhere.

For example, The New York Times correspondent Christopher Clary (who did a great job during AC32) was last seen writing from Melbourne about the Australian Tennis Open (he did a great job).

If you are a sailor, you know that Olympic and other sailing agendas currently are more important than AC33. Just log into Sail-World and see.

Summer-down-under sailing events are filling all the online websites we visit.

Round-the-world challenges enthrall us.

AC33 stubbornly remains a non-event. It's about press releases from major players, learned assessments from uber-lawyers, blogfluff from the rest of us, and occasional sideline lobs from sailing bigwigs who have no jurisdiction over America's Cup.

It's all rather sad.

Nobody, nowhere, anywhere, for any reason, has anything substantive to say about America's Cup.

If we drain the swill pond, maybe something can happen. But we doubt it. Anyone who cares anything is fruitlessly centered on Justice Herman Cahn's New York courtroom, where maybe something will happen, sometime.

But probably even the great Cory Friedman, Esq. would admit it's going to be an elevation to an appeal court, somewhere in New York. God help us.

Meanwhile, the defender has no money. And never did.

Ernesto had no money to make an authentic AC33 happen because he never recruited new sponsors. And he blew away the only real sponsor that counts, Louis Vuitton.

So AC33 is deader than dead.

And AC34 has no viable reality, thanks to the confusion.

That means a lot of serious, rich and vested people must be thinking seriously about what America's Cup means, and whether or not it will ever mean anything again.

Frankly, that's up to Ernesto.

He is the man who committed the humongous bruta figura that started all this.