The America's Cup is the world's premier opportunity for the ultrariches to prove whose is bigger. But if you think the race has anything to do with sailing, you'd be mistaken — it's about who can muster the most capital. This year the victor could be rigged by lawyers, not sailors, thanks to a spat between billionaire software tycoon Larry Ellison and billionaire biotech tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli.
Last July, the Golden Gate Yacht Club sued Cup defenders Société Nautique de Genève [PDF], accusing the Swiss of hand-picking an unqualified challenger, the newly formed Club Náutico Español de Vela. The Deed of Gift, which outlines the terms and rules of the race, requires that a challenging club hold an annual regatta — CNEV held a regatta, with boats crewed by children, only after being selected as challenger.
Now it's SNG's turn to accuse the GGYC of trying to tilt the field. GGYC wants the race to be held in October, giving the Alinghi team only seven months to build their boat. The BMW Oracle team, meanwhile, started building their multi-hulled vessel three months ago. SNG wants the race held in 2009, and says that the GGYC originally agreed that any race would be held ten months after the legal decision had been handed down [PDF].
We are disappointed that GGYC is backtracking on this agreement and launching a new legal campaign seeking to undo what GGYC previously agreed to. Why not simply meet us on the water and settle this there?Probably because Ellison figures that if the case goes back to mediation, New York State Supreme Court Justice Herman Cahn will likely rule in the home team's favor. Us Yankees have a saying — "If you aren't cheating, you aren't trying." (AP/Fernando Bustamante)