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Swiss threaten to forfeit America's Cup

The Swiss defenders of the America’s Cup say they will forfeit the prestigious trophy to BMW Oracle of the United States if a court disqualifies Alinghi’s sails.

Fred Meyer of Société Nautique de Genève, Alinghi’s backing yacht club, said on Thursday the Swiss team would withdraw from the contest if a New York judge finds the Swiss team has violated the Deed of Gift, a 19th century document that governs the race.

At issue is an interpretation of the rules that stipulate each team must built its boat in its respective country.

Alinghi has admitted that material for the sails it plans to use on its 27 metre Alighi 5 catamaran came from a US-based firm but that the sails themselves were built in Switzerland.

The Swiss, who have held the trophy since 2003, argue only the yacht’s hull must be built in Switzerland.

The Americans, who are poised to race a best-of-three showdown against the Swiss defenders, disagree and want the issue settled before the race begins on February 8.

“We have been clear: If BMW Oracle succeeds in disqualifying the defender’s sail then there will be no match,” Meyer said.

A spokeswoman from the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the group behind BMW Oracle, said Alinghi’s threat to pull out is not new.

“They’ve been saying that for the last week or so,” Jane Eagleson told swissinfo.ch from Valencia. “We are excited to race and have been working hard toward that.”

Asked whether a win-by-forfeiture for the Americans would be a disappointment, Eagleson said “we can’t even contemplate that right now”. The Americans have said they would be willing to postpone the race to give the Swiss time to build other sails.

The 33rd America’s Cup is the most contentious contest in the sport’s 159-year history. The teams, each backed by billionaires, have been wrestling in court for two years.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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