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With Court Docket Cleared by BSF, America's Cup Challenger Sails to Victory

Winter 2010


BMW ORACLE Racing Team and Owner Larry Ellison Celebrate 33rd America's Cup Victory

BSF client Golden Gate Yacht Club, represented by BMW ORACLE Racing, won the America’s Cup on February 14, 2010, becoming the first American team to win since 1992.  BMW ORACLE out-sailed Switzerland team Alinghi by an impressive 2-0 lead in the best of three series. “It’s an absolutely awesome feeling. I couldn’t be more proud,” BMW ORACLE Racing owner Larry Ellison told CNN

The lead up to the 33rd America's Cup —the oldest trophy in international sports —was as contentious as any in the event's 159-year history. But BSF lawyers are not afraid to wade into rough waters when a client's interests are on the line.

Thanks to a string of legal victories on behalf of Golden Gate Yacht Club, the 2010 challenger, the world's premier sailing event ‘docked out’ to a smooth start on February 12th in the secure waters of Valencia, Spain. The race pitted two of the world's fastest sail boats: GGYC's sailing team, BMW ORACLE, raced a 90-x-90 foot trimaran with a hard wing sail longer than that of a wing on a Boeing 747; while Alinghi defended in an equally large catamaran. Ellison stated after the win, "the only thing we ever wanted was to meet Alinghi on the water with a fair set of rules, and that's what we got. We're extremely happy today."

The litigation began in 2007, when GGYC and the Cup's 33rd defender, Switzerland's Société Nautique de Genève, went to court over disputes regarding the interpretation of the 1887 document, the Deed of Gift, that governs the America's Cup and dictates rules on aspects of the race such as venue and boat measurements.

GGYC won a crucial ruling on a venue issue on October 27, 2009, before Justice Shirley Kornreich of the New York State Supreme Court, after the Swiss team announced the 33rd Cup would be held off the coast of Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. A BSF team led by managing partner David Boies and partner Philip Bowman, with associates John LaSalle and Cristina Ryan, brought a successful motion to disqualify the venue on two grounds: the Deed of Gift forbids racing in the Northern Hemisphere between November and May; and the location —an area that abuts contiguous Iranian waters — raised security concerns for an American team racing a boat called the USA, which is roughly the size of a baseball diamond and flies an American flag at the top of its 200-foot mast. As a result of the win, venue reverted to Valencia, where the parties had originally agreed to race.

Related Lawyers: David Boies, Philip M. Bowman, John F. La Salle III,

Related Practice: Sports Law