SCUTTLEBUTT EXTRA 3 - Sunday, February 14, 2010 (www.sailingscuttlebutt.com)

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An update to supplement Scuttlebutt 3028 (and Extra 1 and 2)


SCUTTLEBUTT EXCLUSIVE - BENNETT RISES ABOVE RIFF
By Cory E. Friedman, America’s Cup analyst
Valencia, Spain (February 14, 2010) - By now many ‘Buttheads know that
challenger USA 17 crushed defender Alinghi 5 in both races to win the 33rd
America’s Cup. However, reliable sources tell Scuttlebutt that even when you
thought it could not get any worse - it did. The defense club - Société
Nautique De Genève’s (SNG) - had their Race Committee actually go on strike
and refuse to start Sunday’s race ordered by ISAF approved PRO Harold
Bennett. To begin the second race of the Match, Bennett was forced to draft
Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) observer Tom Ehman and a Guardia Civil cop on
board the RC boat and ordered them to run the flags as Bennett counted down
himself.

Sunday was the last day a race could be run before several days of strong
winds and dirty weather struck. Unlike previous days, even though conditions
were not suitable for a race, Bennett got the boats out early and they sat
on the course all day with the 4:30 pm cut off for a start looming. Around 4
pm the wind had shifted and filled in and Bennett started preparing for a
start. SNG’s race committee just did not want to start, claiming that the
waves were in excess of 1 meter - Alinghi’s sea state tolerance. Bennett
ordered the AP down and the Race Committee flat out refused. A major row
ensued and both sides held their ground.

Luckily, prior to the first race, with questions about SNG’s RC’s ability to
overrule Bennett swirling, Bennett had requested an observer from GGYC. GGYC
appointed Tom Ehman, SNG bête noire, which lit SNG up and the solution was
to bring along an SNG observer and minder for Ehman. Bennett lived up to his
reputation for even handed officiating in Race 1, when he resisted SNG’s
pressure to start the race before the wind filled in.

In the face of the SNG RC’s intransigence, Bennett’s solution was to draft
Ehman and the Guardia Civil cop and order them to run the flags. The race
was started at 4:25, just 5 minutes before the deadline and over the SNG
RC’s strike. Without Bennett’s decisive action, the Cup would still be on
hold for days, if not weeks. The result is history as USA crushed Alinghi
and brought the Cup home to the United States of America.

More details to follow in subsequent reports - right now it’s party on.

America’s Cup reports: http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/07/cf/