Integrity For $ale

Integrity For $ale

By Peter Huston

The America’s Cup is about to take another twist and turn on Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court over the rules that will be used in the next match.  At issue is the secret agreement entered into by ISAF and SNG.   We don’t know what was said in the agreement, other than some pithy statements about ISAF picking all the officials.  Another thing we don’t know is how those Officials will be picked by ISAF – who is doing to picking – is it Secretary General Jerome Pels, or some committee?  What sort of oversight will be used for this process?

Most curious is that this press release says that they may not use Appendix C.  Huh?  The biggest match race on the planet may not use the Match Racing rules?  Is this a cost saving move – getting rid of the Umpires and returning back to the protest room?

Consider for a moment that this same Jerome Pels (and remember his infamous “keel yacht” letter in support of SNG) said in the affidavit he provided on behalf of US Sailing in their begging letter to the USOC earlier this month to avoid probation, Pels opined that the world must have one set of unified rules.  Except of course when big money is at stake, then ISAF can change the rules as they see fit. 

What is really interesting for US Sailors is the deafening silence from US Sailing on all of this.  Did ISAF VP Dave Irish have a hand in making this deal between ISAF and SNG?  Did he have knowledge of it, and try to stop it, and fail?  Or did he not know anything?  Attempts to reach Irish have gone unanswered.  Note to my old friend:  Dave, you’ve got some explaining to do to Larry Ellison.  I really hope for your sake you’ve got some good answers, and a plan to help. 

Now, what else is at stake here?  The entire media rights for the event.  Within the ISAF regulations, they claim to own ALL media rights for ALL sailing events.  It’s 18.15.1 in the ISAF Regulations, if you want some reading material to both horrify you and put you to sleep at the same time.

Let’s back up a minute.  Where did ISAF get the rules in the first place?  Harold Vanderbilt wrote them, and gave them to the sport, for the greater good of the sport.  Essentially then, the Racing Rules of Sailing are open source code that ISAF has claimed for itself, and from which they have set up a system to control and regulate the entire game in a manner that would make The Godfather proud. 

Now, we need to consider the trademark rights in the America’s Cup.  Those are owned by a New York State entity called America’s Cup Properties, Inc.  (ACPI).  ACPI then licenses all the trademark rights to the Defender management company, which currently would be America’s Cup Management (ACM).  The infamous SA AC forum poster SimonN has put forth a brilliant analysis of the links within SNG regarding their management of the Cup affairs in this thread.   I’ll leave it for the lawyers to figure out the legality of all this.

So, Erne$to Bertarelli has really figured out the equation to completely control the America’s Cup.  Nice work if you can get it.  Well done, Erne$to.  Good luck in Court on Tuesday Erne$to.  It’s only the integrity of the sport that is at stake.