UAE to host 33rd America's Cup

6th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Alinghi and Oracle yachts will compete in February at Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.

Geneva -- The duel between Alinghi and US challengers Oracle for the next America's Cup should take place in the United Arab Emirates at Ras al-Khaimah in February, the Swiss defending champions said Wednesday.

But Oracle, financed by US billionaire Larry Ellison, immediately condemned the choice.

The US team says it was made without mutual consent and was against the traditional "Deed of Gift" rules for sailing's most prestigious trophy.

"We are reviewing our options," Oracle's home Golden Gate Yacht Club said in a statement.

Oracle's New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts said the team could decide to take legal action.

"It's possible that we could (take legal action), because we don't believe what they've done is legal, but we're not rushing to make that decision," he told AFP in a telephone interview.

"What we want to do is find out more information and talk to Alinghi... They've chosen Ras al-Khaimah, and we don't know anything about that venue. None of our people have spent any time in Ras al-Khaimah."

Alinghi and Oracle are due to return to the seas from 8 February 2010, if the plans go ahead following a long legal battle over the one-on-one challenge by the US syndicate.

"We are pleased to announce that Ras al-Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates, will be the host country for the 33rd America's Cup," said Fred Meyer, Vice-Commodore of the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) in Geneva, Alinghi's home club.

"This is a venue that offers perfect weather and great sailing conditions for a match in February," he added in a statement.

Oracle were informed about the venue by letter, ahead of the legal deadline marking the six month notice period Alinghi had to provide the challenger, sources close to the Swiss team said.

As the defender, two-time winners Alinghi chose the venue and decided to switch from Valencia in Spain, partly because winter brings rough sea conditions to the Mediterranean.

"Our absolute priorities in making this decision are the prevailing weather conditions and the resulting safety that they bring to both teams," said Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth.

"We looked everywhere for a venue that suited having good racing for the Match dates in February.

"We had trained in the UAE in the winter with Alinghi before and in the end we settled on Ras al-Khaimah in particular because of the infrastructure in Al Hamra Village and because it has a great building sea breeze during the day, similar to Mediterranean conditions in the summer, making it good for these boats and safe for all concerned," he added.

Other locations in the Middle East and in South America are understood to have been considered.

Alinghi, financed by Swiss biotech billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, recently launched a 90-foot, high-tech catamaran for the race, marking a departure from the classically shaped single hull.

Ellison's Oracle has been testing a similarly huge trimaran off the US West Coast for several months, preparing for a spectacular sailing battle.

Dubai, a former Alinghi training location, had long been rumoured to be the venue, but they chose one of the smallest of the seven emirates in the UAE.

"It is a great moment for us to host the America's Cup here. It is significant because it reflects how the Emirates have become a place for hosting international events," said Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah.

The America's Cup will be based on a purpose-built 22 hectare island inside a new luxury resort on the coast of the Persian Gulf, according to computer-generated images released by Alinghi.

Peter Capella / AFP / Expatica

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