Congratulations to New York Judge Carmen Ciparick for trying to restore a bit of the nearly lost art of fair play to the America’s Cup competition.
If the decision to disqualify Dennis Conner’s catamaran had been made before the race, a lot of wasted effort could have been avoided. But Ciparick left little question with her Tuesday decision that boats in future races must be more closely matched.
The decision also should serve notice to future Cup defenders and challengers to work out their differences in advance. “Friendly competition” is what George Schuyler called for in his original Deed of Gift of the Cup.
Neither the San Diego Yacht Club nor challenger Michael Fay from the Mercury Bay Boating Club in New Zealand has honored that spirit. It’s been one ambush after another.
There was little of the usual excitement left by the time the two boats left the finish line on Sept. 7. Greed had replaced good will at every step. Even the preceding charity benefit race was tarnished by concessions to advertisers.
If the court decision stands, San Diego will lose an opportunity to host sailing’s most prestigious race. That will cost the city in dollars as well as image. The $1.2-billion figure being cited by San Diego officials is probably overstated, but nonetheless the city is paying a steep price for the San Diego Yacht Club’ smart-aleck response to Fay’s maverick challenge.
We would like to believe that the judge’s decision will keep such trivial disputes out of the court system, but we fear that the America’s Cup tradition of mutual agreement is as much a thing of the past as the 12-meter yacht.
We hope we are proved wrong.
The sporting world would be a slightly saner place if yacht racers put down their brief cases and return to friendly competition.