Wednesday, December 17, 2008

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.

Slide Show
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

Court case
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.

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At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who cares what Tom Ehman thinks or says! The days of BOR are over (thank God). BOR has taken the AC hostage, they have made themselves the sheriff of AC sailing, and have exhibited an incredible amount of arrogance. Additionally they have destroyed the reputation of American sailors, not to speak of lost opportunities, lost sponsorships, loss of support and genuine work for sailors. The BOR team has never won anything on the water, and they are desperately trying to railroad the AC by using pathetic court maneuvers. Both BOR as well as Mr. Ehman are responsible for the bad reputation of US Sailing around the world due to their court actions purely motivated by hidden agendas. This has nothing to do with sportsmanship and AC. Get BOR out of the AC forever!

At 9:47 PM, Anonymous WetHog said...

BMWO has taken the AC hostage? Please! I think it is safe to say BOTH Alinghi and BMWO are responsible for the current state of the AC. For anyone to put all the blame soley on BMWO either haven't been paying attention, or don't know what they're talking about.

And if BMWO's actions have given US Sailors a bad name, I can imagine EU Sailors must have crappy reputations since they are associated with Alinghi/SNG/CNEV.

Yeah doesn't make sense does it?

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who cares what Tom Ehman thinks or says!"

He's the only guy who makes any damn sense any more. The Alinghi Cup is ridiculous, it's just a parade of wannabes who look like fools.

At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there is one big difference now between the BOR and the Allinghi camp: BOR continues to block the event, while Allinghi has sat down with ALL THE REGISTERED TEAMS and they have worked out a protocol to everybody satisfaction. That seems like a much more sensible approach then to simply block everything in court (and all the while claiming to be the defender of the free "sailing world"). The BOR approach reminds of the American approach in the Midle East: make peace with war! Only difference here is that Mr. Ellison wants to win the cup in the court room; his sailing has been too pathetic to win the AC on the water!

At 2:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell the 20 entered international teams from countries all over the world that they are a parade of wannabees ..... That's really funny! But even more funny is that they all will be sailing for the AC in another great AC event in Valencia while the self-pronounced "Savior of the Sailing World" BOR will be watching the event on cable TV.

Its truly mind blowing that US Sailing is represented by such an overblown ego as Mr. Ellison/Tom Ehman who jointly have destroyed the reputation of American sailors. Oh well, just as well that they will not be part of the next AC .... good rhythms!

At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel sorry with the members of BOR and Russel who is one of the worlds greatest sailors, but will not be able to take part. Many lost hopes and spoiled dreams, so many people part of the BOR team who will have to look for other opportunities. BOR should have joined the other challengers in the meetings with Allinghi and should have registered. Why didn't they? Do they really think that their brains work better then those of 20 other international teams? Its a shame for the members of the BOR team, my heart goes out to them.

At 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is well known that Tom Ehman has mislead Larry on many occasions. The biggest mistake was his resistance to not register BOR and his refusal to partake in the organizational meetings. Now Mr. Lehman ghas isolated the whole BOR team with no other options left. After the 33rd AC debacle he should have resigned from the BOR team, and let clearer heads take over. Mr. Lehman has failed the BOR team and the US sailor.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Quino said...

One important question: BOR is not a challerger for the 33AC ¿WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE BOR BASE IN THE PORT? HAS BOR RIGHT TO USE IT?

At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, they don't! Of course not! BOR has never participated in any constructive activity towards the next AC. They cannot claim any rights for space (or any other matter) as they are not part of anything! So far their use of the space has been simply a gesture of goodwill.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not just the teams who have lost money on the whole immoral fiasco, spare a thought for all the suppliers and small businesses that have invested substantial amouts of money,(some of which is all they have, like myself) and now are facing serious financial problems. The AC and yachting is a sporting industry, it has many businesses running from it which are the lively hoods of the people and families who run them. We do not have millions of euros we can just throw away. I think this is one of the most discraceful examples of bad sportsmanship and selfishness ever witnessed in sporting history not just yachting history. The BOR should be held accoutable for all the losses made by the yachting comunity, and then banned from the AC.


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