America's Cup facing yet another legal hurdle

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2013

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America's Cup organisers are facing another embarrassing hurdle to their regatta with a court injunction being sought to find a rival for cup holders Oracle in a defenders series.

That would throw the event into disarray at this late stage, especially since the plaintiff has no boat or crew.

The African Diaspora Maritime, a North Carolina-based sailing syndicate with a mission of training African-American racing sailors, believes the Golden Gate Yacht Club, holder of the trophy and the host of the event, did not act in good faith in 2011 when it reviewed and rejected their application to be involved.

Oracle's original America's Cup vision not only included a large number of challengers but also sought rivals in a defenders series.

Neither eventuated because of the enormous costs to mount a campaign though African Diaspora Maritime slipped in a last minute application in March 2011.

It was rejected under an area of the cup protocol that said: "GGYC will review Defender Candidate applications and will accept those it is satisfied have the necessary resources (including but not limited to financial, human, and technological) and experience to have a reasonable chance of winning the America's Cup Defender Series."

Now African Diaspora Maritime are sticking to their cause and, if successful with their litigation, could yet disrupt the America's Cup match which is due to start on September 7.

A New York court initially dismissed the case, but now a state appellate court has bounced it back again. A decision whether the case could go to the New York Supreme Court could be made this week.

"We're certainly at least entitled to a good-faith consideration of our application, which we didn't get," Andrew Kratenstein, a New York lawyer handling the case for African Diaspora Maritime, told the New York Times.

In an event known for legal surprises, this would upstage everything if it went all the way. But lawyers representing the regatta organisers are confident they will head it off.

"GGYC looks forward to proving that it reviewed African Diaspora Maritime's application carefully and concluded that A.D.M. did not have a reasonable chance of winning a Defenders Series. There is simply no merit to A.D.M.'s claims," Phil Bowman, a lawyer representing the yacht club, said.

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