Alinghi “waiting on Court” before a decision on AC venue

Societe Nautique de Genevre, the defender in the 33rd America's Cup Match,  says they are going to wait for the New York Supreme Court to file the order (saying the Cup could not be held at SNG's preferred venue of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates) before making any decisions on the venue for the match.

“We are talking to Valencia and other Southern Hemisphere venues. Meanwhile, in RAK it is business as usual, the boat is out training in perfect conditions and the development continues,” a spokesperson for the club said.

Meanwhile, GGYC (BMW Oracle) skipper Russell Coutts has released a statement calling on SNG to name Valencia as the venue:

“Valencia is the best option to get the America’s Cup back on track as soon as possible. This is what sailing fans from around the world are waiting for. Both BMW ORACLE Racing and Alinghi still have bases in the Port America’s Cup. The infrastructure created to the specification of the Swiss defender is in place, available and ready to recreate the atmosphere of the previous America’s Cup in 2007. Last week Cristobal Grau, Director of Sport for Valencia City, said it would only take a few weeks to have Valencia back in action. Today the Mayor of Valencia, Rita Barbera, said her city would welcome the Cup back with open arms.

“In her ruling at the New York Supreme Court on Tuesday, Justice Shirley Kornreich confirmed the primacy of the governing Deed of Gift document for the America’s Cup. This means that Société Nautique de Geneve (SNG) must choose a Deed-compliant location. Although Valencia is in the Northern Hemisphere, it is possible to hold the 33rd Match there in February because both SNG and Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) had agreed to it by mutual consent.

“Were SNG to propose a location in the Southern Hemisphere instead of Valencia, we ask the defender to name it as soon as possible so that we have the maximum opportunity to make an informed assessment. We say this noting that nearly three months of the court-ordered six month minimum notice period for the venue has gone already,” Coutts statement said.

Speculation about the venue has been rife since the court decision on Tuesday. Valencia is the favourite because of its existing infrastructure and proximity to Alinghi's base in Switzerland. However, the fact that BMW Oracle wants to race there could be reason enough for SNG to reject it. Also, wind conditions in Europe in mid-winter will not favour the Alinghi catamaran which performs best in the “middle” wind range. BMW Oracle's trimaran has the advantage in extremely light airs and in winds above 15 knots. These are exactly the conditons that can be expected in Valencia in February – strong north-easterlies for two to three days when a weather pattern comes through, followed by two to three days of extremely light conditions. The average temperature in February is a cold 13degC, with the range being 6 – 16degC. Not ideal conditions for corporate hospitality. For all these reasons, don't be surprised if the Match takes place in the Southern Hemisphere.

If it does, a possible venue is Auckland which also has infrastructure in place from the 2000 and 2003 matches and which historically experiences light winds (by Auckland standards!) in February. Sydney, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janiero are outsiders.

A spokesperson for Yachting New Zealand said, “Yachting New Zealand would be delighted to see the event here. However we have no influence on this and are simply a cheerleader in the matter.”

With the opposing skippers, Brad Butterworth and Russell Coutts, both being Kiwis, there is no doubt Auckland would find favour among some of the sailors. However, the Swiss are highly unpopular in New Zealand, for poaching most of the Kiwi team that won the America's Cup from San Diego. There was also a lot of bad blood between the Swiss and the Kiwi fans during the recent Louis Vuitton series. But the big question is, how do the lawyers feel about it? It appears no decisions can be made regarding AC33 without their involvement!

Whatever happens on the water, the 33rd Match will finally be decided in the New York Supreme Court after the event. And that's bad for yacht racing.

Photo of Auckland Harbour courtesy of www.virtualoceania.net

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