Fantasy regatta for a fantasy yacht club?
Most probably, most of our readers will know by now that right after Alinghi's SUI-100 crossed the finish line on July 3rd, in the 7th race of the 32nd America's Cup Match in Valencia, Desafío Español signed together with the Swiss Defender the Protocol of the 33rd America's Cup and became the Challenger of Record.
Unlike the 32nd edition of the oldest sports trophy, this time the Spanish challenger did not represent the national sailing federation but rather a Spanish yacht club, founded by the same federation a few days earlier specifically for that matter. The yacht club was named CNEV (Club Nautico Español de Vela), or Spanish Yacht Sailing Club. We will not not judge here the validity or legality of the yacht club, but rather comment on events that took place after that date.
On the 11th of July, the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) presented a formal challenge for the 33rd America's Cup to the Société Nautique Genève (SNG), defending yacht club of Cup winner Team Alinghi. In the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia, GGYC was represented by BMW Oracle. In addition to filing a challenge, the GGYC contested the validity of the CNEV, stating among other that it had never held an annual regatta, as requested by the Deed of Gift. We will not discuss the validity of the GGYC's arguments either.
On July 12th, the CNEV, through Desafío Español, replies to the allegations and states, among others, that two regattas will be carried out during the month of July. So far so good.
A day later, July 13th, the Spanish Sailing Federation (RFEV) announced that the first regatta held by the CNEV and called "Desafío Trophy" was about to start at noon on the same day!! It was supposed to last two days (Friday 13 and Saturday 14 of July) with pre-teen children participating in Optimist boats.
Today we read an interesting article by Spanish journalist Jaume Soler who in his blog raises serious questions about the veracity of this first regatta supposedly organized by the CNEV.
According to the RFEV official release, the prize giving ceremony was scheduled to take place on Saturday at 6pm. According to Soler, El Mundo, one of Spain's most important newspapers sent a photographer and it resulted there was no ceremony at that time. In addition, during that weekend in Santander winds were extremely light, around 3 knots all day.
On July 17, the RFEV issued a press release, regarding the regatta and presenting the official standings after 5 races. The winner was, always according to the release, Italian girl Vittoria Raulli and the prize giving ceremony allegedly took place on Sunday, one day after the race was over. According to the release, both Friday and Saturday wind conditions were good.
One wonders why the press was not warned of the change of schedule and was not summoned on Sunday to be present. It would appear obvious to anyone that the CNEV would have tried to seek the maximum publicity possible for its annual regatta, summoning the press, TV and radio.
Three pictures accompany the text on the RFEV website. The first one on the top allegedly depicts the children racing although it is clear that none of the boats is going in the same direction, let alone one of the kids is holding on to the tender. The second one shows some dinghies ashore while the third one allegedly was taken during the prize giving ceremony. There is of course no sign of Vittoria Raulli or of any trophy but rather a group of children receiving some diploma.
Although we haven't been able to confirm it ourselves, it seems that the so-called "Desafío Trophy" was nothing more than a simple training session of Santander's local kids who afterwards received their diplomas for attending the weekend school. The vast majority of Spanish sailing journalists coincide in that view. If this is confirmed then it is a really sorry day for the sport that a club/federation/AC challenger would stoop to a new all-time low.
According to the Spanish Sailing Federation, this is the prize giving ceremony of the "Desafío Trophy", the annual regatta held by the 33rd America's Cup Challenger of Record. No comments