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The Supreme Court of the State of New York yesterday ruled against Alinghi, the Swiss defenders of the America’s Cup, upholding the legal challenge of BMW Oracle Racing (BOR) and making the American team the official challengers for the trophy.

Justice Herman Cahn’s 18-page judgment in the case of the Golden Gate Yacht Club v Société Nautique de Genève (the teams’ representative yacht clubs) was damning of Alinghi and agreed with BOR’s central contention that Club Nautico Español de Vela’s (CNEV) status as official challenger — which allowed it to negotiate the much disputed parameters of the next America’s Cup with Alinghi — is illegal.

BOR argued that the Spanish syndicate was an invalid challenger since it has never held a regatta as required in the regulations. Yesterday’s ruling means that BOR have the right to a head-to-head, best-of-three race against Alinghi, with ten months’ notice, in a type of yacht and a location of their choice. That is the scenario laid out in the Deed of Gift, the 19th-century document in which the rules of the America’s Cup are enshrined.

The simplest solution for both teams, and the seven other challengers (at least two others are also waiting in the wings), will be for Alinghi and BOR to agree to the original schedule of the 2009 America’s Cup in Valencia, but with a new protocol that hands some power back to the challengers. Six dark months after what was arguably the best America’s Cup staged, there is finally the opportunity for peace.


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