Alinghi to sit out next America's Cup

Vanquished America's Cup champion Alinghi of Switzerland won't try to win back the oldest trophy in international sports in 2013.

Alinghi spokesman Paco Latorre said Thursday that the Swiss syndicate will skip the 34th America's Cup, which will be sailed in either San Francisco or Italy, while focusing on a series raced in 40-foot catamarans.

"After a careful evaluation of the protocol and other initiatives taken by the American Defender and its Challenger of Record, Alinghi considers that the existing conditions make it impossible for the team to participate in the 34th America's Cup," Latorre said in a statement.

Reached by phone, Latorre refused to elaborate.

"It's not for us to say that this is disappointing, good, bad, surprising or whatever," Latorre said. "We've made our announcement and that's all we have say."

Owned by Swiss biotech tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi won the America's Cup in 2003 and successfully defended it in 2007. The Swiss were routed in two races by San Francisco-based BMW Oracle Racing off Valencia, Spain, in the 33rd America's Cup in February. The racing in giant monohulls was the culmination of a bitter, 2½-year court fight between Bertarelli and American software tycoon Larry Ellison, two of the world's richest men.

Latorre said in his statement that Alinghi remains interested in the America's Cup and "will be closely following its developments in the coming months."

He also appeared to take a shot at BMW Oracle Racing when he said that the Extreme Sailing Series, which is sailed in 40-feet catamarans, is expanding geographically and commercially "whilst maintaining a truly level playfield and exciting competition."

The next America's Cup will be sailed in a new class of 72-foot catamarans, a departure from the traditional sloops.

Alinghi was involved in two of the most bitter chapters in America's Cup history.

After Team New Zealand successfully defended the America's Cup in 2000 in Auckland, Bertarelli poached top Kiwi talent for his startup syndicate, including skipper Russell Coutts. Many New Zealanders branded Coutts and the other Kiwi crewmen as traitors, then watched angrily as Alinghi swept Team New Zealand to become the first European-based crew to win the silver trophy.

Coutts had a falling out with Bertarelli and was fired in 2004. He was forced to sit out the 2007 America's Cup, which Alinghi won 5-2 over Team New Zealand in Valencia. Ellison hired Coutts as BMW Oracle Racing's CEO right after the 32nd America's Cup, then sued Alinghi in a New York court over rules and other issues regarding the 33rd America's Cup. The Americans eventually prevailed in the long, convoluted case, then sailed their trimaran, powered by a radical, 223-foot wing sail, to a convincing victory over Alinghi's catamaran.

Only three groups have filed challenge papers for the 34th America's Cup. They are Challenger of Record Mascalzone Latino of Italy, Artemis Racing of Sweden and a group that hasn't been identified.

BMW Oracle Racing is considering bids from San Francisco and Italy to host the 34th America's Cup, and will make a choice by the end of the year.