The best-of-three showdown for the America's Cup between Switzerland's Alinghi, the two-time defending champion, and its bitter American rival, BMW Oracle Racing, is due to start on 8 Feb off Valencia but could be delayed by the contestants' legal fight. This contest for yachting's most prestigious trophy started in the courts.
A legal dispute between the Alinghi and BMW Oracle teams has resulted in the elimination of many of the specifications and rules that kept America's Cup boats looking fairly similar in previous years. Alinghi will sail a catamaran, Alinghi 5, while their challengers have chosen a trimaran nicknamed "Dogzilla." The boats are 90-feet long and can sail at two to 2.5 times the speed of the wind. A court victory for Alinghi allowed the Swiss team to use an engine to trim the sails and move the water ballast. BMW Oracle Racing had opposed the departure from the tradition of using only wind and manual power in sailing America's Cup yachts. Alinghi, the two-time defending champion, made two new filings in New York State Supreme Court in January against the challenger. One suit defends the legality of the sails for its catamaran. The other suit challenges the legality of the US trimaran, arguing that the craft should be disqualified if it doesn't compete with a certain sail configuration. The race first took place as the Hundred Guinea Cup on Aug. 20, 1851, by the Royal Yacht Squadron of Great Britain for a race around the Isle of Wight. The cup was won by the America, a 100-foot (30-metre) schooner from New York City, and subsequently became known as the America's Cup. UPDATED Jan/10
Date written/update: 2010-02-08