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Burnham and Fay Meet but Settle Little

December 16, 1987|CHRIS DE LUCA

SAN DIEGO — Maylin Burnham, president of Sail America, and New Zealand merchant banker Michael Fay emerged from their Tuesday morning meeting at the San Diego Yacht Club showing no signs of a brutal struggle.

"Neither of us are scarred or bloodied, so I hope you all understand that we had a friendly meeting this morning," Burnham said at a news conference at the yacht club.

The meeting may have been friendly, but it accomplished little more than to confirm the intent of the San Diego Yacht Club, which is representing Sail America for the 1988 challenge from Fay. It was the first time the two sides had formally met since Fay issued his challenge July 17 to race for the Cup.

Burnham, who met privately with Fay for nearly two hours, said three specific areas were discussed. First, no other challengers will be considered for the 1988 event, in accordance with the Cup's century-old Deed of Gift.

"I think the first thing we came to clarify was the issue of whether the SDYC (would) consent to facing a challenger selected from a sail-off of Australia, Britain, France, Japan, New Zealand, anybody who was here," said Fay, in a separate news conference. "We said, as challenger, (that) we would go ahead with that format. The San Diego Yacht Club gave us a very strong answer, that that (a sail off challenger) was not on from their side as defender. That's really what we came for and that's the answer we got."

A spokesman for the Canadian yachting syndicate said Tuesday that it has joined Fay in challenging the SDYC for the Cup, but Burnham said the New Zealand syndicate and the SDYC will be the only competitors.

Burnham also said Tuesday that the SDYC will name the site of the 1988 event at least 90 days before the race.

And, finally, Burnham said the SDYC will compete in a yacht of its own design that fits within the guidelines of the deed, specifically a vessel with a 90-foot water line.

Burnham said the SDYC will stick to a strict interpretation of the Deed of Gift, something he says Fay has failed to do.

"He (Fay) seems to want to set his ground rules without any discussion or mutual consent on our part," Burnham said Tuesday. "Yet when it comes to our role as to what we have to say and do and decide on, he wants to counter and argue and subject us to someone else's interpretation on everything we do."

Fay's challenge is based on a literal interpretation of the deed.

Fay contends that racing in the 90-foot waterline boats will enhance world-wide interest in the America's Cup.

"What's going on is the opportunity to put the biggest sailing boats in the world on the water," Fay said. "They will be the most exciting boats anybody has seen sailing. They will be a spectacle here in San Diego, and we want the whole world to watch."

Burnham said that if San Diego wins the 1988 challenge, he will return the Cup to its modern format, specifically 12-meter boats and a competition open to several challengers.

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