Alinghi waits to decide America's Cup future

By Paul Logothetis

VALENCIA - Alinghi president Ernesto Bertarelli will wait before deciding whether the Swiss team continues sailing the America's Cup.

BMW Oracle completed a 2-0 sweep of Alinghi this morning (NZT) to win the contentious series after the international sailing classic had been stuck inside the court room since July 2007.

Bertarelli said that the American champion could "withdraw their lawsuit" to get the two-time champions interested in returning. BMW Oracle and Alinghi still have a February 25 court date to determine whether the Swiss team's sails were made in-country as the rules decree.

"They were faster, so good on them. Maybe I wouldn't have done the same thing but that's the America's Cup - it's not the European Cup so the Americans have a bit of an advantage and they take the Cup back home," said Bertarelli, who accused the New York courts of favouring its American opponent. "We did everything we could but we never went to court unless we were forced to."

Bertarelli said he would also be tempted if the sailing classic continues with multihull racing, with the high-technology boats flying through the water at three times the speed of wind.

"This America's Cup was about speed," Bertarelli, who was at the helm both races, said. "Certainly for us with the investment we've made in the multihull it's easier for us to stay with the multihull or go back to (last) version. Anything in between is a new beginning."

BMW Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said it was a steep learning curve but he would welcome the futuristic boats again.

"There's a lot of appeal there. You guys saw the boats out there today and that was pretty awesome to watch," Spithill said. "I can't tell you which one is better, all I can say is that it just show you how good our sport is that we have such variety out there."

Bertarelli took a moment to warn BMW Oracle counterpart Larry Ellison about rushing into any rash decisions when planning the America's Cup after an acrimonious campaign that sapped the sport of sponsors, fans and momentum following the exciting 32nd edition.

"Now it's up to them to rebuild that. I think the Cup deserves it and they have a responsibility," the biotech billionaire said. "It's for them to show us now what they can do."

The two sides started up in a New York court shortly after the 32nd edition when Alinghi signed a Spanish challenger which the courts rejected. The case dragged on over proposed rules to eventually set up the rare best-of-three grudge match - only the second time a short series has been raced and first since 1988.

"One thing I would like to assure everyone about the 34th America's Cup is that there will be a completely independent jury, there will be completely independent umpires, it will be an independent group that manages the next America's Cup," Ellison said. "And it will be a level playing field for all competitors."

Bertarelli said his team's greatest achievement was "being the first European team to win the America's Cup."

"There are a few things from hindsight I could have done differently but overall it was a pretty good run," Bertarelli said. "No regrets really."

- AP

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