Tom Schnackenberg's barge and Monday's hearing in the NY Supreme Court
First of all, I would like to express my apologies for the short break in news coverage but I had to attend some business unrelated to sailing.
During the last couple of days some readers have posted comments and many more sent emails, criticizing me for reproducing Tom Schnackenberg's interview that first appeared on the Alinghi website. Their argument was that Schnackenberg's description of the yacht BMW Oracle will use in its challenge as a barge was "ridiculous", "stupid", "a joke" or even "ludicrous". Here's the "spy" picture of the "secret weapon" Larry Ellison will use, sent by one of our funny readers.
I would like to make a couple of clarifications on the issue. Given the importance of the legal battle between Alinghi and BMW Oracle and this website's focus on the America's Cup we will always reproduce the most important news and features that both sides publish, whether it is an official press release or other material on their respective websites. When reproducing such content I always make it clear its source and never claim to endorse it. Even when somebody might utterly disagree with one side or the other it is always useful to know where they stand on the various issues and what their opinion is.
Some other people argued that in fact Tom Schnackenberg was not serious in his comments and was only joking, in some kind of April Fool's Day hoax. I personally find it difficult to conceive such a scenario but even in the remotest possibility it were true, isn't it also interesting to know that Alinghi has the time and resources to waste on such trivial matters?
Throughout this 6-month legal battle there has been a considerable number of press releases, declarations or interviews that turned out to be erroneous or false. In hindsight it is easy to judge them and disregard them but still they provided useful information when they appeared. Take for example Ernesto Bertarelli's statement some months ago that he couldn't lose the court case because he had the best lawyers in the world. I personally would have never made such a statement (of course I'm not Bertarelli) but at that precise moment it was indeed extremely useful to reproduce it because it reflected the state of mind Alinghi's owner (and probably the whole Alinghi camp) had.
As far as Monday, January 14, is concerned, all eyes will be turned to the NY Supreme Court. Starting 9:30 am (3:30pm European time), Justice Cahn will hear the arguments of both sides in order to issue the settlement order. Undoubtedly, the thorniest issue is the date of the America's Cup match. BMW Oracle wants it to take place on the 1st, 3rd and 5th (if needed) of October 2008 while Alinghi would rather race in July 2009. Hopefully we will have some indication at least on Monday evening.
Still, we might be in for further delays. According to Gerardo Pombo, president of the Spanish Sailing Federation (RFEV), unless Justice Cahn orders the two teams to race 18 months from now, Alinghi will file an appeal against the settlement order. Pombo made that statement during a private conversation in a group of several people. Whether this turns out to be true will be known shortly but it wouldn't come as a surprise.