America’s Cup News: No RAK Yes Valencia

Posted: December 16, 2009 in Alingi, America's Cup, boat, boats, sailboat, sailboat race, sailboats, sailing, trimaran, yacht, yacht race, yachting, yachts
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America's Cup News: Alinghi 5

America's Cup News: Alinghi 5

America’s Cup News: No RAK Yes Spain

RAK is out as the site of the America’s Cup, and the yachting showdown between Swiss and American crews in giant multihulls is headed to Valencia, Spain, on February 10, 2010. The New York appeals court unanimously upheld a lower court’s order on Tuesday, saying that Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, doesn’t qualify under the 19th-century Deed of Gift to be the port for the nautical grudge match between defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland and American challenger BMW Oracle Racing.

With their choice of RAK now a two-time loser in court, including Tuesday’s 4-0 ruling by the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, the Swiss said they will abide by the court’s decision. “Once again BMW Oracle’s strategy to try to win the America’s Cup in court instead of on the water has been successful,” Fred Meyer, vice commodore of Alinghi’s backing yacht club, Societe Nautique de Geneve, said in a statement.

“For the first time in the history of the America’s Cup the defender has been stripped of its fundamental right to select the venue. Societe Nautique de Geneve accepts this decision and Alinghi is looking forward to racing for the America’s Cup on the water in Valencia, Spain, in February 2010.”

The Americans hailed a double court victory. “This is a big stride forward,” said Tom Ehman, a spokesman for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, which sponsors BMW Oracle Racing. “GGYC and BMW Oracle Racing are pleased but not surprised that the Appellate Division upheld the invalidity of RAK.”

The Appellate Division also upheld a lower court’s ruling that rudders are excluded from measuring a boat’s load-waterline. The Americans said the Swiss wanted rudders included in the measurement in an attempt to disqualify the trimaran. The rudder issue was an important technical victory for the Americans.

The rulings came a few hours after BMW Oracle Racing finished loading its 90-by-90-foot trimaran BOR 90 and wing sail aboard a container ship in San Diego, where the syndicate has been headquartered since September 2008. The ship was to leave Tuesday afternoon for Valencia. The first race is scheduled for Feb. 8. Ehman also confirmed that BMW Oracle Racing and Alinghi are discussing making it a best-of-seven showdown rather than a best-of-three series as stipulated in the Deed of Gift, which governs the America’s Cup.

Alinghi’s 90-foot catamaran, Alinghi 5, has been in RAK since late September. The Swiss fought desperately to save RAK as the venue because officials there committed $120 million for infrastructure to host the giant boats and their shore crews.

BMW Oracle Racing fought RAK as the port based on terms of the Deed of Gift as well as safety concerns due to its proximity to Iran.

Tuesday’s ruling could be the end of a long, twisting America’s Cup court fight between bickering billionaires Bertarelli of Alinghi and his counterpart with BMW Oracle Racing, software tycoon Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., but we doubt it!

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