Golden Gate sues Alinghi over next America's Cup

NEW YORK -- San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club sued
two-time America's Cup champion Alinghi on Friday, seeking to
replace Spanish syndicate Desafio Espanol as the official
challenger for the next regatta and void rules changes.

Golden Gate claimed Club Nautica Espanol de Vela is an "invalid
challenger" because it never held a regatta as stipulated in the
rules of the "deed of gift," the regulations which govern the
America's Cup.

It also claims Alinghi's club, the Societe Nautique de Geneve,
used the Spanish one "to engineer a match protocol in which
virtually all challenger rights are eliminated and total control of
the event and its rules are granted to SNG, altering the very
nature of the competition and giving unprecedented and unfair
advantages to SNG," a statement from Golden Gate said.

"By refusing to disclose the basic elements of regatta venue,
date and boat design rules, there is no opportunity for a fair and
equitable competition."

Alinghi wouldn't comment on the lawsuit and calls to Societe
Nautique de Geneve's offices went unanswered.

The suit was filed in the State of New York's Supreme Court -- which has jurisdiction to settle all disputes in the competition.
It could force Alinghi to accept Golden Gate as the official
"challenger of record," thus allowing it to negotiate the format
for the 33rd edition.

The court also could rule that Alinghi must race a yacht from
Golden Gate under the rules expressed in the deed of gift, which
call for a best-of-three series when parties can't mutually agree
to terms. In 1988, American yacht Stars and Stripes was ordered to
race New Zealand challenge KZ-1 in a best-of-three format. Stars
and Stripes won 2-0 with a catamaran design against KZ-1's massive
monohull sloop.

Desafio Espanol signed the protocol for the 33rd America's Cup
and became the challenger of record moments after Alinghi crossed
the finish line one second ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand to
hold onto the Cup.

The protocol revealed the first new class of boat since 1992,
while leaving the location of the regatta venue, date and boat
design rules vague.

Golden Gate, a small, blue-collar club when it filed to be the
challenger of record moments after Alinghi won the Cup in 2003,
doubted Club Nautica Espanol de Vela's validity as a legitmate
yacht club, since it was created as a means to challenge and keep
the competition in Valencia.

The Spanish syndicate said it hosted a regatta last Saturday in
Santander, Spain, making it eligible to race for the Cup.

"Whatever they want to do is their problem -- we will play their
games," team spokesman Miguel Angel Garcia-Juez said. "Desafio
Espanol will be the challenger for the next America's Cup."

Garcia-Juez said it was still negotiating the agreement signed
with Alinghi.

"It's not a good and it's not a bad deal; we're still
negotiating the protocol, but whatever we want to do is our
problem," Garcia-Juez said. "We want to improve it and we're in
discussions. All this talk, that's their agenda."

The disagreements over the format already have caused warmup
regattas in Kiel, Germany, and San Francisco to be canceled, while
Louis Vuitton pulled its name from the challengers' series it
sponsored since 1983 in disagreement over the commercial direction
Alinghi was steering the competition.