Prada in reverse gear
Following yesterday's news that Oracle had lodged a protest with the America's Cup Arbitration Panel, Prada lost no time in engaging reverse gear. Dropping their court action like a hot potato, Prada issued a statement suggesting that the matter was a simple civil dispute with no real connection to the competitive business of the America's Cup.
"The dispute before the High Court of New Zealand originates from an agreement signed in January 2001 by Prada Challenge for America's Cup 2003 NZ Ltd, Oracle Racing Ltd and America's Cup Village Limited (the company that runs the Auckland harbour) concerning the location of a barge positioned by Oracle on the boundary between the Prada and Oracle bases," say Prada in their statement.
"Prada believes that this is not a matter that falls under the jurisdiction of the AC Arbitration Panel. Notwithstanding the fact that the above is an issue for the civil court, in the interest of the event and in order to avoid a sterile discussion of issues having no relation with the substance of the sport, Prada Challenge for America's Cup 2003 NZ Ltd has already formally discontinued the court proceedings.
In much the same way as One World have already condemned themselves with limited admissions of guilt in the Sean reeves affair, one can not help feeling that the speed with which Prada have dropped their court action only serves to demonstrate the significant level of concern in which they hold Oracle's submission to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel.
There seems little doubt that simply by opening an action Prada was in breach of the Cup Protocol. Simply dropping the case does not erase the crime - though it might reduce the punishment. So far as the Arbitration Panel are concerned, the case has now if anything become more complex.
And in case you wee wondering when judgement might be handed down, the answer is not any time soon. The members of the Arbitration panel are refusing to make decisions until such time as the can be sure they themselves will not become subject to legal action as a result of their decisions.