Aucklandgate broadens

Stars & Stripes' Bill Trenkle claims Sean Reeves also attempted to sell AC design secrets to his team

Thursday February 14th 2002, Author: Nigel Cherrie, Location: Australasia
The OneWorld America's Cup Syndicate were forced to admit yesterday that disgruntled former employee Sean Reeves had allegedly tried to sell the team's design information to yet another syndicate.

It was revealed that Bill Trenkle (right) , the Director of Operations for the New York Yacht Club challenge (Team Dennis Conner) has filed a sworn declaration claiming he too had been contacted by Reeves.

OneWorld CEO Gary Wright explained in a statement that, "a declaration has been made by Mr Trenkle giving details of a meeting between he and Mr Reeves at the request of Mr Reeves back in June of last year (2001) in or around San Diego. It is our understanding that this meeting was an attempt by Mr Reeves to sell Team New Zealand information and some OneWorld information to Team Dennis Conner.

"I have been advised that the meeting was opened by Mr Reeves by asking Mr Trenkle if he was prepared to win the America's Cup at any cost? Mr Reeves then proceeded to offer for sale Team New Zealand Millennium rig plans along with information from the OneWorld Challenge 2003 rig program and line plans for NZL-60. All of this stuff was offered for an unspecified fee".

The statement went on to make clear that "Mr Trenkle stated to Mr Reeves that it would be illegal for Team Dennis Conner to use this information because of the America's Cup Protocol. Mr Reeves replied there are ways around the Protocol, after all he was one of the guys that drafted it".

Today's news backs up the earlier declarations by Chris Dickson at Oracle Racing and David Barnes, the General Manager of GBR Challenge that Reeves tried to sell them similar information.

Trenkle, who oversees the design, building and maintenance of the Stars & Stripes ACC yachts, told local reporters in Auckland that he "couldn't imagine in his wildest dreams that anyone, no matter how disgruntled, would offer this kind of information". Indeed, he "almost thought it was a set-up to entrap him." This will be his eighth America's Cup.

The OneWorld syndicate have actually been aware for up to six months that Trenkle was approached by Sean Reeves. They opted not to disclose this information at yesterday's press conference when they refuted a large majority of the accusations made against their sailors, management and the 73-year-old double Cup winning designer, Laurie Davidson. Why?

"The issue yesterday was the allegations against us with relation to the Arbitration Panel and ensuring that the true story of that got out," Wright told madforsailing.

This may be the OneWorld syndicate's first foray into the America's Cup but Wright joked that they seem to have had enough bad luck to last at least three campaigns. And there is always the possibility it could get much worse. He admitted that there is "a real possibility" that OneWorld could be thrown out of the America's Cup although he has confidence in the Arbitration Panel to make a fair decision.

"I believe nobody will force a team out of the competition based on somebody's lies and allegations. There has to be proof. I stand behind the team and Craig McCaw stands behind the team. We have a bunch of guys that are men of integrity".

One suspects that there is still a lot more left in this deepening saga that has yet to make it into the public domain, the question is where along syndicate row will it surface next? All the while, five teams are being distracted from their goal of trying to win the America's Cup.

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