Blue Dolphin May Never Leave Home With It

That giant credit card company, American Express, is mighty touchy about its slogan, “Don’t leave home without it.” In fact, so touchy that it may ruin the Blue Dolphin Yacht Club, one of America’s Cup challengers.

There’s no argument that American Express has the legal right to the exclusive use of the rather uninspired admonition--for which they probably paid plenty to some creative ad agency. But a full-bore suit against a local artist and a local promoter, both bent on returning America’s Cup to the United States, does seem a trifle heavy handed.

Yet, that’s what has happened. American Express has leveled its legal battery at the Return America’s Cup organization of Newport Beach. As a result, the organization’s Blue Dolphin Yacht Club’s America’s Cup challenge is in danger of being scuttled. The legal action was inspired by Blue Dolphin having printed on clothing, posters and knickknacks this slogan: “America’s Cup. Don’t leave Perth without it.”

Granted, it has a familiar ring to it. Even so, Leonard (Skip) Riley, executive director of the local Return America’s Cup, says his group filed a trademark application with the U.S. patent and trademark office last summer. The examiner, he claims, did not cite any registrations by American Express against the application.


Then last December, American Express demanded that Riley’s cup group abandon the slogan. Riley and his associates agreed to do so. Despite the agreement to drop the slogan, American Express has sued and refused to withdraw the suit. The company is suing for triple damages.

Attempting to counter the suit, Riley and the artist who designed the poster, Sean McMahon, are charging American Express with malicious prosecution through Attorney Darryl J. Paul of Corona del Mar.

So far, the Blue Dolphin Yacht has not got a challenging, 12-Meter sailboat on the drawing board, thus lagging behind most of the other U.S. challengers. The Dolphin group was formed to put a challenger in the water--once $12 million was raised through the sale of posters and clothes bearing the disputed slogan.

Part of the money-raising campaign was the sale of $25 club memberships. And there were thousands of entries in the club’s Name the Challenger Contest, competing for the winning name for the club’s future 12-Meter. The winner was promised a trip for two to Perth in 1987.


It seems that Blue Dolphin may never leave America with a 12-Meter unless some less costly and amicable solution is reached.

Sailing Notes

- Despite a minor snag, nothing like what happened to the Blue Dolphin challenger, of course, the Eagle Syndicate of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club is sailing on an easy broad reach toward Perth. The snag was when the syndicate’s “laboratory” 12- Meter Magic fouled its fin keel on an anchor rode of a committee boat last weekend off Long Beach at the start of a match race against the Italiano Yacht Club’s 12-Meter Victory ’83. Needless to say, those aboard the committee boat were surprised to find themselves being towed unexpectedly.

An Optim Corporation computer system is being used to measure simultaneously all sailing performance variables on Magic. Designer Johan Valentijn of Newport, R.I., is using the Optim system to evaluate Magic’s performance, and then apply the data to the design of the challenger 12-Meter Eagle. It’s Eagle the local syndicate will enter in the America’s Cup Challenger Series in Fremantle, Australia, in 1986.

The Optim system, manufactured in Gaithersburg, Md., employs a high-speed Megadac data acquisition unit that records input from up to 128 measurement devices at up to 20,000 times per second. Data being gathered includes wind speed and direction, boat speed and heading, rigging forces and leeway, in addition to other critical factors affecting the performance of a vessel under sail.

- Opening Day ceremonies of the Dana West Yacht Club will be held May 19, and Balboa Yacht Club will hold its ceremonies on May 11. BYC is planning a two-day “Spring Roundup,” May 18-19 at White’s Cove Catalina Island. A chili cook-off will be one of the features.

- The first albacore of the season were reported by boats of the Avalon Tuna Club returing from Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja.