Friday, December 07, 2007

Open letter from Ernesto Bertarelli, President of Alinghi

[Source: Alinghi] Since Alinghi’s successful defence of the America’s Cup in July, much has been said by many and I wish to explain my personal passion for bringing my vision of the America’s Cup to life.

When I founded Alinghi it was all about creating a team to share the passion of sailing through every channel available to as wide an audience as possible. We tried to adopt a fresh and open way of doing things and making part of our base accessible to the public was only one example of the many innovations Alinghi brought to the America’s Cup. I believe this approach was a contributing factor to our success in 2003.

With the Defence of the Cup, we got the opportunity to share this spirit with the whole event. When we began, we set out a clear and innovative strategy focusing on the choice of venue, the set up of a purpose built port, the America’s Cup Park and the Acts as part of our vision of opening the event to as large an audience as possible.

Over six million people attended the event, which for the first time saw the participation of syndicates from five continents. The television coverage extended the reach to over four billion viewers.

The critics who opposed the Acts, the choice of venue, the television production, etc. were numerous and vociferous but the facts proved that the 32nd America’s Cup was a positive turning point for this historical event.

At the same time as realising some of the fascinating aspects of the America’s Cup I also became aware of its weaknesses. The uncertain format of the event meant that teams – and the entire America’s Cup Community – had no future beyond the next Cup. This leads to teams only surviving one cycle and the whole event needing to recreate itself every three to five years. This results in a substantial increase in costs and difficulty in securing long term sponsors.

For the 33rd edition, the concept was to empower the organisers to implement further innovations without unnecessary disruptions. The proposal to create the new AC90 class with the one boat sailing rule in a two year cycle is a major measure towards managing the costs while creating further excitement and by using the existing facilities of Valencia we had the ideal platform to maintain momentum. This would have enabled the event to prosper and generate greater revenue for the organisers to share with the teams.

The recent events in the New York courts, with the Judge ruling the CNEV invalid because it had not held its regatta at the right time, show the Achilles’ heel of the event and the possibility of its destabilisation through individual actions. Again, as in 2003, our vision has received criticism from those reluctant to change. I stand by one of the principles of the Cup: the Trustee, with the Defender, has the responsibility for the governance of the event and to implement changes which will allow it to prosper.

With a view towards the future and having studied the rules of the Cup I observed that the Deed does not actively promote parity for the teams and a long term future of the event.

In October of this year I went to New York to start a dialogue with the New York Yacht Club to examine what enthusiasm there was to make the event more relevant to today’s sporting landscape. The Deed of Gift was, after all, written over 150 years ago at the NYYC and could not anticipate the changes that the world has undergone. I was not expecting the discussions to be completed swiftly but I was thrilled when Charles Townsend, Commodore of the NYYC and George W. Carmany III, Chairman of NYYC America’s Cup Committee, expressed the same feelings.

It is fair to say that the 33rd America’s Cup has been ill-fated and I have a desire to make it right. The fastest way to achieve this objective would be for the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the Société Nautique de Genève to work with the New York Yacht Club on revising the Deed of Gift to make it appropriate for today without losing what makes the America’s Cup special. As part of this process I am happy to compromise on some of the Defender’s rights to achieve what is best for the event.

In effect, I raise the following questions:
· Should the Defender automatically be qualified for the final AC Match or should all teams start on equal footings?
· Should the schedule of venues and content of regulations be announced several cycles in advance allowing planning and funding?
· Should the governance of the Cup become permanent and be managed by entities representing past and current trustees as well as competing teams?

Over the weekend I spoke at length with Larry Ellison explaining our proposal and I was pleased that he was very supportive of the principles in the proposed changes.

Based on these principles it is my intention to work towards a renovated America’s Cup to take place in Valencia and to be raced with the certainty that the event cannot be disrupted to meet individual requirements to the detriment of those willing and able to compete.

If this revision of the governing documents of the America’s Cup cannot be achieved, we will have to accept the GGYC challenge under the Deed of Gift

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At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what does this mean? Does it mean Bertarelli and Larry Ellison are gloing to agree on what all the other syndicates have agreed on?
Bertarelli letter includes 3 questions which he hasn´t answered, he surely doesn´t expect us to answer them for him? Come on Bertarelli get on with sponsor is going to put up any cash if you don´t start behaing like a true sportsman... why did LVMH leave? precisely for your chaos... and get rid of Bonnefous and Hodara, they are poisoning you. Luckily, Bonnefous lousy PR is keeping this scandal in among the real sailing lovers and out of the general publics eye.
Find more of the likes of Brad Butterworth, a gentleman....
Come on Ernesto, start thinking SPORT and SAILING.

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you say clothing one's wolf-like actions in sheep's clothing? Please.

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Mander said...

Going by the letter, it looks like AC is heading for catamarans challenge between GGYC and Alinghi. It won't be easy to get everyone to the table on the proposals raised by Ernesto. Ernesto should be dignified enough to agree to the proposals sent by challengers a few days ago throgh letter of Coutts. Why would someone agree to long term decision on venues,for the winner of the cup would like to defend the cup on its home waters. If Team New Zealand wins, why should they agree to sail the cup in Europe. Ernesto having lost the case in court rooms, is now looking for his place in the permanent management of the cup,even if his team looses to Larry/Coutts team. Even if most of the contenders agree on his proposals, the proces can be started to modify the deed but
33rd AC can go ahead under the present deed. There is no logic in making everyone wait and waste time and money.

At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an improvement in that while the Defender still sails with the Challengers, the Defender has no automatic guarantee of being in the finals. It's not what America's Cup has been for the last 150 years, but it is better than what SNG and CNEV were proposing for AC33.

At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did this magnanimous proposal surface when they lost the court case?
A. Its simply a diversion - they are preparing for the cat race as we speak! Trust me, its ON.


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