America’s Cup Skipper Says RAK Venue Doesn’t Comply

Posted: October 22, 2009 in Alingi, America's Cup, boat, boating, boats, catamaran, sailboat, sailboat race, sailboats, sailing, sailing race, yacht, yacht race, yachting, yachts
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Ras Al Khaimah America's Cup Sailing Venue

Ras Al Khaimah America's Cup Sailing Venue

America’s Cup Skipper Says RAK Venue Doesn’t Comply

The proposed sailing venue in Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, is no more of a legitimate America’s Cup venue than the Colorado River or Walden Pond would be, says the American challenger BMW Oralce in its latest court filing in a long, bitter legal battle with defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland.

Safety concerns aside, the BMW Oracle sailing team said the Swiss choice of Ras al-Khaimah doesn’t meet the stipulations of the 19th-century Deed of Gift that governs sailing’s marquee event and the U.S. club is attempting to get the New York State Supreme Court to reject RAK as the port for the best-of-3 showdown beginning Feb. 8 in giant multihulls, and have it staged in Valencia instead.

Although GGYC and its sailing team, BMW Oracle Racing, have raised “grave safety concerns” about a giant, American-flagged trimaran racing within several miles of Iran, the Americans are asking the court to decide the issue based on stipulations in the 1887 Deed of Gift.

Justice Shirley Kornreich has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 27 on the venue issue and an ongoing rules spat. Her court holds jurisdiction over America’s Cup legal conflicts. Alinghi and its backing club, Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), have argued that a court order from April 7 gives them the right to host the racing in Valencia or any other location. The Swiss announced in early August their choice of RAK, the emirate nearest Iran. GGYC counters in a reply memorandum filed late Monday that the Deed of Gift prohibits racing in the Northern Hemisphere from Nov. 1-May 1.

Although Valencia is in the Northern Hemisphere, neither side objected earlier in the court fight to holding the rare head-to-head showdown in Valencia. The Spanish port hosted the 2007 America’s Cup, which Alinghi won over Team New Zealand.

GGYC said in its filing that SNG argues that the April 7 order is unambiguous and means exactly what it says, that the match can be held in Valencia or “any other location selected by SNG.”

“In fact, however, as SNG effectively concedes, the order cannot be taken so literally,” GGYC attorney David Boies wrote. “Not even SNG believes that it can select the Colorado River or Walden Pond for the America’s Cup, which is what the literal words would imply, because SNG acknowledges that it cannot select a venue that is not on an ocean course or free of headlands. Given that the literal meaning cannot apply, the order must be interpreted consistent with the Deed of Gift. Accordingly, it means that SNG may select Valencia or any other venue that is permitted by the Deed of Gift.”

Boies also wrote that the court need not agree with GGYC that the Swiss have subjected the American syndicate to unnecessary danger by selecting RAK. “Nevertheless, GGYC has offered evidence of the serious safety concerns presented by SNG’s selection of Ras al-Khaimah to demonstrate the necessity of bringing the present motion to enforce the terms of the Deed of Gift.”

Alinghi and Ras al-Khaimah officials have said the emirate is capable of the security and infrastructure needed to host the America’s Cup. That hasn’t swayed the Americans. Last week, GGYC told SNG it is considering filing a complaint with New York courts on the grounds of breach of fiduciary duty, in part because of the selection of RAK as the America’s Cup venue.

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