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America's Cup's foes set for February showdown

A NEW York judge ordered America's Cup champion Alinghi of Switzerland on Thursday to face bitter American rival BMW Oracle Racing in a rare one-on-one showdown in fast monster boats.

Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich of the Supreme Court of the State of New York upheld an order that Alinghi meet the Americans in the best-of-three match in February.

Kornreich strongly urged the bickering syndicates to go to mediation to finalize the dates and other issues surrounding what could be the most spectacular racing in America's Cup history. A long, convoluted court fight between billionaires Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli has put the Swiss and Americans on course to meet in massive multihulls that are so cutting-edge they can sail up to 2? times the speed of the wind.

Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing has been testing a 27x27-meter trimaran with a mast as high as a 16-story building and a mainsail twice the size of a Boeing 747's wing. The space age-looking craft was hidden under a tent in a San Diego boatyard for what the syndicate said are extensive modifications.

The Swiss are secretly building what's reportedly a 33.5-meter catamaran in Villeneuve on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.

Kornreich didn't hold Alinghi in contempt of court for saying it wanted to race in May 2010.

She didn't disqualify BMW Oracle Racing as Challenger of Record either but said it needed to promptly provide a measurement certificate for its trimaran and threatened disqualification if the boat didn't match the dimensions provided in its challenge papers.

Racing will be in Valencia, Spain, or another Northern Hemisphere port picked by the Swiss, who must give the Americans six months notice of their choice.

In early April, the New York State Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which backs BMW Oracle Racing, was the rightful Challenger of Record.


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