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Golden Gate YC offers to drop America's Cup case

Sept. 23, 2008, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club on Tuesday offered to drop its America's Cup court case if two-time defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland agrees to a conventional competition with multiple challengers and rules similar to the ones used in the 2007 regatta.

The offer came less than a week before GGYC is due to file its brief in its last-chance appeal with the New York State Court of Appeals in Albany. The club is fighting to regain its status as Challenger of Record, which would give it a say in setting the regatta's rules.

GGYC commodore Marcus Young made the offer in a letter to officials with Societe Nautique de Geneve, the Swiss club that backs Alinghi. The offer was in reply to a letter from SNG on Sept. 8 outlining potential grounds for further legal action in a spat that's lasted more than a year.

GGYC spokesman Tom Ehman said it's at least the fourth time the San Francisco club has made the offer to the Swiss.

``Just to make it perfectly clear, we think most of the sailing world agrees that Alinghi's actions are damaging the Cup,'' Ehman said. ``There's a simple solution to get the thing out of court and on the water and we're hoping they'll take us up on it.''

Ehman hadn't heard from Alinghi by Tuesday evening. Representatives of the Swiss group weren't available for comment.

GGYC backs BMW Oracle Racing, which is owned by Oracle software boss Larry Ellison. The San Francisco club and Societe Nautique de Geneve have been fighting in New York courts since the end of the 32nd America's Cup in July 2007, when Alinghi beat Team New Zealand.

GGYC initially secured a court ruling that it was the rightful Challenger of Record, meaning it had the right to negotiate terms of a traditional multichallenger regatta with Alinghi. When the two syndicates couldn't agree to terms, it appeared they were headed toward a rare one-on-one showdown, or Deed of Gift match, in giant multihulls.

But in late July, the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled 3-2 that Spain's Club Nautico Espanol de Vela, not GGYC, should be the Challenger of Record. That appeared to send the Cup back to its traditional format of several challengers vying in monohulls, not multihulls, for the right to face the defender in the America's Cup match.

GGYC responded by filing an appeal with the New York State Court of Appeals.

GGYC officials contend that the rules initially put forth by SNG for the 33rd America's Cup are tilted in the defender's favor.

Ehman said the 2007 America's Cup ``was a great event with close racing. We still don't understand why Alinghi tore up those rules and then tried to install their own protocol.''

BMW Oracle Racing has been training aboard a 90-foot trimaran in Anacortes, Wash., in case it wins its appeal. The syndicate plans to move the massive boat to San Diego later this month for two months of training on the Pacific Ocean.