Tom Ehman and Manolo Ruiz Elvira talk to Valencia's local press
BMW Oracle held a presentation on Wednesday afternoon in their base, where Tom Ehman, GGYC's spokesperson, and Manolo Ruiz Elvira, member of the design group, talked to the local Valencian press, conveying the team's message.
The first part of the presentation consisted of an 8-minute slide show of the team’s activity in 2008, a “busy” year according to the opening title. It started with Franck Cammas and the Groupama yacht, showing footage of the initial multihull training sessions, alone or together with Banque Populaire. The show then moved to some shots from Anacortes and the BOR 90 boat yard and then on to the RC44 circuit with a good number of photos from Sardinia, at the beginning of the season, and Puerto Calero, last week.
It was time to move back to Valencia and the team’s daily activity in the base before showing us USA-17, BMW Oracle’s short-lived experience in the TP52 circuit. Again we were served a good number of spectacular photos from the Marseille regatta, the one and only they took part in. The slides went back to the multihulls and the Extreme 40 campaign, including the capsize they suffered during the initial stages of their training here in Valencia.
Finally, the slide show moved back to Anacortes and the BOR 90 trimaran, where Franck Cammas and James Spithill were examining parts of the hull in awe, before closing with footage of the yacht sailing, probably there as well, judging from the background scenery.
Tom Ehman and Manolo Ruiz de Elvira talk to the Valencia TV. Valencia, 17 December 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing
It was a busy year for the team and, according to Ehman, they only thing they didn't achieve was to reach an agreement with Alinghi. As a result, the court case is now proceeding and the next scheduled appearance is for the 10th of February, when the 7 judges will hear the 20-minute oral arguments from both sides. According to Ehman, this court is very "punctual" and almost always rules approximately 30 days from the last oral argument. As a result, we should expect a decision by the end of March.
BMW Oracle think they will win and if they don't, this will mean "the end of the Cup as we know it", as Ehman stated. He went over the arguments the team has often repeated, emphasizing a statement Larry Ellison made in the New York Times concerning Ernesto Bertarelli. "Larry simply doesn't trust Ernesto. Why would you enter a regatta where one of the players hires the referees, hires the jury, makes the rules and has the opportunity to excuse anybody from the regatta at any time", added Ehman.
"Never in the past have the America's Cup rules been written in secret", added Ehman. It has always been done in public and even prospective teams had the right to participate. The initial protocol of the 32nd AC was made public a mere 2 days after Alinghi won the 31st edition but was then rectified numerous times by what Ehman called "challenger forums", open to everybody. According to him, this time what we lack is the mutual consent between a strong challenger and the defender, a cornerstone of the America's Cup. What we have instead as Challenger of Record, is the CNEV, "a joke, a farce, a sham".
One of the first questions regarded the fact that all teams from the 32nd AC, except BMW Oracle, have finally entered the 33rd AC, signing the protocol BMW Oracle considers unfair. Both men, in English and in Spanish, promptly answered that each team had its own reasons for entering and wondered why Team New Zealand backed up and decided to withdraw their lawsuit against Alinghi. Even Mascalzone Latino, clearly opposed to the protocol according to Ruiz de Elvira, had to enter the competition, fearing they might lose their base. Despite the assurances to the contrary from the teams that entered, the Americans want to first read the documents before considering dropping the lawsuit and entering the event.
And even now it doesn't really matter what the protocol says, added Ehman, because CNEV and Alinghi can always change it at will, any time they want.
As for their chances in winning, Ehman says they are "cautiously optimistic" and they would quantify them as more than 50%.
Tom Ehman explains BMW Oracle's position to Valencia's journalists. Valencia, 17 December 2008. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing
The future - Valencia
If BMW Oracle wins, and it will as Ehman insists, it will again try to negotiate with Alinghi in order to have in Valencia a conventional regatta with multiple challengers, "as soon as possible". BMW Oracle will then be able to see the protocol, Alinghi having no other option, and will fix it by negotiating a "proper, fair regatta for everybody so that any of the challengers has a chance to win". The trimaran is nothing more than a "defense mechanism, a fall back" since Alinghi, particularly Brad Butterworth, has always insisted on an one-on-one race if the court's decision is unfavorable to them. If again negotiations fail and BMW Oracle is left with no option but race the giant multihulls, and they know Alinghi is building one, they will try to hold the 34th America's Cup in Valencia, if they win.
The fact BMW Oracle would want to hold the next conventional America's Cup here in Valencia doesn't mean their relation with the city and the local authorities is rosy, quite the contrary. In fact, for the first time ever, we officially heard that both Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts were "very unhappy" with the city's filing of an amicus brief last month. Even if they will not withdraw their written commitment, Ellison and Coutts might reconsider their position and will wait for a gesture from the city.
How bright is the future of the America's Cup? Brad Buterworth at the World Yacht Racing Forum. Monte Carlo, 12 December 2008. Photo copyright Gianni Armiraglio
BMW Oracle – BOR 90 trimaran
Although Manolo Ruiz de Elvira was present, there wasn’t anything new we discovered about the boat, with the exception probably of the price tag. According to Ehman, the boat cost "more than 10 million euros", without explaining how much more.
Following my James Spithill's interview here last week, we received a number of requests about the trimaran's top VMG down and upwind. I faced tight lips when I asked the question, although we were told the yacht reaches "more than twice" the speed of wind. It hasn't been optimized for any particular wind range and it goes fast in light winds and very fast in stronger winds, without any further details.
We didn't get any reply either when we asked whether they were designing or building a second yacht for an eventual one-on-one race against Alinghi.
The only thing for sure is that we will be able to have a first-hand look of what could be the world's fastest sailing yacht in Valencia. According to Ehman, if BMW Oracle wins the court case they will bring the trimaran in Valencia in order to train.