America's Cup rivals ordered back to NY court

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An ongoing legal dispute over the next America’s Cup yachting competition is back in the hands of a New York judge after planning talks broke down between the main two rivals, one team said on Tuesday.

The Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), which sponsors the BMW-Oracle team, has asked a New York judge to hold defending champions Alinghi, which sails under the colours of Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), in contempt of court for seeking to delay yachting’s most prestigious race by three months.

GGYC contends the first round of the race must be held no later than early February 2010. But Alinghi has said that the race should be held in May 2010.

Both sides have been ordered to appear in court May 14.

“By forcing litigation over our rightful challenge, they have already managed to delay the match from July 2008 to February 2010,” GGYC spokesman Tom Ehman said in a statement. “Now they seek another three-month delay, in defiance of the Court’s clear mandate. Enough is enough.”

A spokesman for Alinghi, which is backed by biotechnology billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, declined to comment.

Earlier this month, New York state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, found that Alinghi was wrong to accept a challenge from Club Nautico Espanol de Vela, a Spanish team that had formed as a club just days before submitting its challenge.

A so-called challenger team proposes to race the cup winner and together they plan the next race.

The 33rd running of the race was originally scheduled for this year but has been shelved ever since California-based BMW-Oracle contested CNEV’s challenge in a lawsuit filed in 2007.

BMW-Oracle, financed by Larry Ellison, the chief executive of software giant Oracle Corp, was instead named the Challenger of Record.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Cynthia Osterman