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THE AMERICA’S CUP CONTROVERSY : AMERICA’S CUP CHRONOLOGY

Compiled by the Associated Press

A chronology of the events of New Zealand’s challenge for the America’s Cup, compiled by the Associated Press:

Feb. 4, 1987

Dennis Conner wins back America’s Cup from Australia, sailing for the San Diego Yacht Club. Conner had lost the Cup while defending for the New York Yacht Club. Instead of following NYYC procedure of immediatley announcing terms of his next defense, SDYC becomes involved in conflicts over control of the regatta, site for the event, fund-raising and other financial issues.

July 10, 1987

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New Zealand, fresh from its first America’s Cup challenge in Fremantle, Australia, wins the World 12-Meter Championship in Sardinia. In the void created by San Diego inaction, New Zealand syndicate chairman Michael Fay and attorney Andrew Johns come up with a “Deed of Gift” challenge. Yacht designer Bruce Farr, a New Zealander working in Annapolis, Md., is given three days to come up with dimensions for a challenger yacht of the largest size permitted by the deed.

July 17, 1987

Mercury Bay Boating Club (MBBC) formally challenges SDYC to a match for the America’s Cup “in the manner set forth in the America’s Cup Deed of Gift.” Fay and Johns deliver the challenge by hand at the SDYC to Commodore Fred Frye and Vice Commodore Douglas Alford. The challenge specifies racing in a 90-foot waterline monohull, to begin in June 1988.

July 29, 1987

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Royal Perth (Australia) and Royal Burnham (England) yacht clubs announce official challenges for the race in 90-foot yachts.

Aug. 6, 1987

New Zealand announces it will sail against other qualified challengers present in San Diego in 1988.

Aug. 31, 1987

After being told by the SDYC that there would be no response to its challenge, New Zealand asks the New York Supreme Court, arbitrator of Deed of Gift conflicts, to order the SDYC to acknowledge the challenge at valid and binding. This is the third court case spawned by SDYC’s defense. The City of San Diego had initiated action in California to prevent to SDYC and its regatta members, the Sail America Foundation (SAF), from moving the site of the regatta away from San Diego. The SDYC was already preparing a case to the N.Y. Supreme Court to have the Deed of Gift amended to prevent challenger-initiated matches and to put control of the “perpetual challenge trophy” in the hands of the defenders of the Cup. Judge Carmen Ciparick merged the SDYC and MBBC actions in her court.

Sept. 9, 1987

The New York Supreme Court hears the case.

Sept. 14, 1987

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SDYC, eight months after winning the Cup, and after a temporary restraining order obtained by the MBBC was lifted, announces that San Diego has been selected as the site of the 12-Meter Cup defense.

Nov. 25, 1987

Judge Ciparick rules the MBBC challenge is valid and disallows San Diego’s request to amend the Deed of Gift. The court tells the SDYC that the choices are to sail a match for the Cup in accordance with the challenge and the terms of the Deed, to negotiate other terms by mutual consent, or to forfeit the Cup.

Dec. 2, 1987

Sail America writes to Mercury Bay, advising that the challenge is accepted. The notice states that the SDYC defender yacht will not be named until the start of the match. This foreshadows coming events by reserving to the defense, among other things, a decision about the “number of hulls” the defender yacht will have. In the notice, Sail America rules out any international challenger selection series by agreeing to meet only the Mercury Bay yacht described in the challenge. Sail America is emphatic that “no other challenges will be considered until this pending event is decided.”

Dec. 3, 1987

New Zealand welcomes San Diego’s decision to race, but argues for a mulinational regatta and a match in 90-foot yachts. San Diego refuses, insisting on a two-nation race.

Dec. 10, 1987

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Eight America’s Cup groups (six interantional challenger candidates and two U.S. syndicates seeking a role in defender trials) meet in New York. The group calls for a wider international regatta, agrees to compete in 90-foot sloops as specified in th MBBC challenge and asks MBBC to represent their interesets in negotiations with Sail America. Sail America refuses on all points.

Jan. 19, 1988

During a week of talks with MBBC in San Diego, SDYC announces it will defend with a catamaran, a multihulled boat inherently faster than a monohull, and reopens the issue of venue by saying that Long Beach or Hawaii were sites preferred to San Diego. Negotiations end and MBBC begins its protest of the multihull “mismatch.”

Jan. 25, 1988

Royal Burnham files an action in New York Supreme Court seeking to force the SDYC to open the regatta to international challengers and to have the SDYC trusteeship of the Cup revoked.

Jan. 29, 1988

MBBC writes to SDYC asking it to confirm that a defense with a multihull is its true position. Six days later, SDYC confirms that its “present intention” is to defend in a multihull and says the races will be held in Long Beach, not San Diego.

Feb. 24, 1988

The Royal Burnham case is heard. SDYC says in court it will now accept international challenges provided the competing yachts comply with Mercury Bay’s notice of challenge. SDYC’s statement is met with skepticism in the international yachting community.

March 9, 1988

MBBC offers to postpone racing until February 1989 so all challengers and the defender will have time to prepare a proper regatta in 90-foot sloops.

March 13, 1988

SDYC rejects the Mercury Bay offer, but yields on its venue decision by changing the venue to San Diego, not Long Beach.

March 28, 1988

MBBC announces that in Auckland that the Deed of Gift requires that there be a match, and if SDYC does not agree to compete in 90-foot yachts, it will ask the court to order that the defender “sail a match” as required by the terms of the court’s previous order of November 25, 1987.

April 6, 1988

Judge Ciparick issues a decision on the Royal Burnham pleading. She says that unless the defender and challenger agree by mutual consent to an international challenger elimination series, the match must by sailed one-on-one. SDYC refuses to accept Mercury Bay’s offer to delay the races to permit other challenges. Royal Burnham’s motion is denied.

April 7, 1988

Sail America sends to MBBC a draft “Notice of Regatta” containing rules for a two-boat regatta. MBBC lists disagreements with many of the specifics and insists that the basic issue of a catamaran defense of a keelboat monohull challenge must be resolved before agreement is reached on race conditions can be agreed on.

May 5, 1988

Mercury Bay asks the Supreme Court in New York to order SDYC to abandon a multihull defense, as contrary to the Deed of Gift and contrary to the previous court order directing San Diego to sail a match against the 90-foot monohull keelboat, challenger, due to arrive in San Diego within three weeks.

May 25, 1988

Justice Ciparick hears New Zealand’s and San Diego’s agruments.

June 1, 1988

In a letter to Justice Ciparick, New Zealand once again offers to postpone the Cup match until May 1989 and again agrees to an international elimination series, starting on March 1, 1989, off San Diego, provided all participating yachts comply with the original challenge and the Deed of Gift. A match committee of five persons, including the challenger, the defender, Royal Perth Yacht Club, NYYC, and a chairman to be agreed upon, is also proposed. The committee would hear any disputes relating to the Deed of Gift, conditions affecting the match, or the elimination series.

June 3, 1988

SDYC rejects New Zealand,s second offer to delay racing to May 1989 to ensure an open and fair contest.

July 25, 1988

Judge Ciparick rules the court cannot order compliance or cite for contempt even an expressed intention to defend with a multihull. The Judge orders SDYC and MBBC to race first, as the defender does not have to name its yacht until the first race, then bring forward any protests after the racing.

Sept. 7 and 9, 1988

SDYC’s catamaran sweeps the series, 2-0. Establishing early superiority in both races and sailing sporadically thereafter, Stars & Stripes beats New Zealand in a bizarre national encounter.

Sept. 9, 1988

Following the second race, New Zealand says it will protest the catamaran to seek its disqualification.

Oct. 12, 1988

New York Yacht Club submits to Judge Ciparick that there was no match, as that term is used in the Deed of Gift, and proposes a rematch. Affidavits from both NYYC and Royal Perth Yacht Club, the other prior trustees of the Cup, reaffirm their positions that the catamaran was not a qualified defender. Sail America immediately rejects the proposal for a rematch, followed by MBBC.

Nov. 30, 1988

MBBC asks the Court to disqualify SDYC’s 1988 catamaran defender on the grounds that it was not qualified in terms of the Deed of Gift and MBBC’s notice of challenge. Mercury Bay argues that the whole sense of America’s Cup competition is in a match between comparable vessels. The use of the catamarans are not specifically prohibited by the Deed, they are permitted. Mercury Bay interprets the same phrase to mean any one yacht or vessels, carrying the sense of no fleet defenses, please.

Jan. 9, 1989

Twenty-five international challengers meet in San Diego and reach agreement on a new America’s Cup class design inspired by the Big Boat Challenge and by new-found challenger’s rights revealed by Mercury Bay’s challenge.

Jan. 10, 1989

Eight American yachting groups meet in Los Angeles with MBBC and Royal Perth Yacht Club representatives to discuss terms of a defense to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, should the court rule in favor of Mercury Bay.

March 28, 1989

In the first disqualification in the Cup’s 138-year history, Judge Ciparick ruled that the San Diego Yacht Club flouted rules in the two-race sweep last September by sailing a catamaran while the New Zealanders used a traditional monohulled craft. Pending possible appeals, SDYC was ordered to forfeit the Cup to the MBBC.


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