The mayor of San Diego yesterday was denied a chance to argue in court against a two-boat race for the America's Cup next fall.
Mayor Maureen O'Connor flew cross-country to appeal November's New York State Supreme Court decision, which ordered cupholder Dennis Conner to meet New Zealand's surprise challenge in huge, 90-foot waterline boats. The match could cost San Diego, proposed site of a multinational 1991 Cup regatta, over $1 billion in lost revenues if Conner loses the premature showdown.
But O'Connor was barred from speaking before Justice Carmen Ciparick because the city had failed in court papers to request time for oral arguments. She flew home in the afternoon and city officials said she probably will not return Monday, when the arguments were scheduled.
The city wants to take the case to the appellate level on grounds loss of the cup in the unexpected challenge would injure the city. Conner's Sail America Foundation and San Diego Yacht Club have indicated they will not appeal and are preparing to defend the cup in September.
New Zealand challenger Michael Fay and Sail America director Malin Burnham met Tuesday for the first time to try to iron out details of the showdown, but found little common ground.
Fay said yesterday published reports after the meeting that he had given up on including other challengers in the September regatta were incorrect. Australia, England and Canada want to build boats and compete with New Zealand for the right to race Conner for the cup, but Conner's forces, citing rights under the 100-year-old cup Deed of Gift, are insisting on a two-boat race.
"We'll keep shoving like hell to allow other countries to participate," Fay said yesterday from Los Angeles, "but we can't deny the fact San Diego in the end can reject an elimination sail-off." Under the rules, he said, "We can't force them."
Fay also reiterated his disagreement with Sail America on where the races may be held and what kind of boat Conner may bring. Fay believes the Deed of Gift requires racing in San Diego Yacht Club's home waters, unless another site is approved by both parties. And he believes Conner must sail a single-hulled boat like the one Fay is building in Auckland, not a catamaran or trimaran, as Sail America has threatened to bring.
"We've put them on notice about that," he said. ". . . We don't want a mismatch or a default."