Yachting: Syndicate under full sail for 2009 (+video)

By Dana Johannsen

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While uncertainty still surrounds the next America's Cup there will be no slackening of pace from Team New Zealand, with their sights firmly set on a 2009 regatta.

Syndicate head Grant Dalton welcomed yesterday's New York Supreme Court decision which found in favour of the US-based Oracle syndicate.

The timing and format of the next regatta remains unclear, with Alinghi and Oracle still to agree on race conditions. But Dalton says as far as Team New Zealand is concerned they have been, and will continue to work towards, a 2009 regatta.

"That's what we've always been working towards in the hope common sense would prevail," said Dalton.

"Now there is that opportunity if Alinghi agree and everyone lays down their weapons and just gets on with it."

Dalton says a 2009 regatta is "100 per cent" Team New Zealand's preference. "We're a team that's in it's stride. We haven't taken a backward step since the day after [the failed challenge in Valencia]. We've come back here and just quietly got on with our own business."

While some murkiness still exists, Dalton says the court decision takes a number of options off the table.

"With an Oracle win or Alinghi win, there's always sort of been permutations that fall from either one of those but you can take one of those out now because Alinghi hasn't won."

Dalton says Oracle's "good will and intent" to stage the event in 2009 has never waivered.

"We just have to see how Alinghi react now.

"They could appeal, they've consistently said they wouldn't and the opinion we have from our legal people, based on the way the judgment's been put together, is that an appeal would not be successful."

Oracle chief executive Russell Coutts has indicated the US syndicate wants a traditional multi-challenger regatta in Valencia in 2009.

The event would be sailed with the new class of bigger boat dubbed AC90 and under an agreement reached at a meeting of challengers last month.

Oracle's basis for settlement is a nine-point plan which the syndicate presented to Alinghi on October 17 in the hope of avoiding the dispute going to court.

Dalton believes Oracle's proposal is fair, but it remains to be seen whether Alinghi will now settle.

"Whether or not Alinghi will agree to what I feel is a fair letter put to them on October 17 - I have no call on that," said Dalton. If there is no compromise on the proposal, a one-on-one series would be held on the water in July next year between Alinghi and Oracle.

"If it changes we adapt, that's just the nature of life," Dalton said. "If there is no mutual agreement and they race in multi-hulls next year then you know at that point whether Alinghi win or Oracle win and the next event would be in Valencia in 2011 or 2010 or 2011 in San Francisco - we can deal with that."

* WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR

July
Alinghi successfully defend America's Cup in Valencia

The Swiss syndicate issue a new protocol

August
Oracle file a lawsuit accusing Alinghi of choosing an illegitimate team, Desafio Espanol, as its "challenger of record" and of setting rules for the next Cup which are unfairly weighted in the Swiss defender's favour

October
Attempts are made at an 11th hour resolution with Oracle issuing a nine-point plan as a basis for settlement agreed upon by the rest of the challengers

The two parties fail to settle and the matter is heads to the New York Supreme Court

November
America's Cup Management officially postpone the 2009 event due to the uncertainty

The New York Supreme Court rule in favour of Oracle

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