America's Cup can't be held in Ras Al Khaimah

The New York Supreme Court has ruled that the 33rd America's Cup, scheduled in February 2010, must take place in a venue in the Southern Hemisphere as per the strict reading of the competition's governing document, the Deed of Gift, or in Valencia, Spain, as the only exception to that rule.

While the 1887 Deed stipulates that racing for the America's Cup between 1 November and 1 May must take place in the Southern Hemisphere, Justice Cahn's 12 May 2008 New York Supreme Court Order ‘that the location of the match be in Valencia or any other location selected by the SNG' led the America's Cup defending yacht club, Société Nautique de Genève, to select Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.

“This is a disappointing result as we were certain that Justice Cahn's May 2008 decision allowed the Defender to chose Valencia or ‘any other location',” said Lucien Masmejan, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) legal counsel. “Ras Al Khaimah has put enormous time and effort into this 33rd America's Cup project. We thank them and feel sorry for this unexpected result out of the New York court”.

“We are satisfied, however, as Justice Kornreich confirmed that the Deed of Gift Match will be conducted under SNG rules as she had already ruled in a previous court order,” added Lucien Masmejan.

The defenders, SNG (Alinghi), chose Ras Al Khaimah as the venue because the prevailing wind strength there suited their 90ft catamaran more than the challenger's trimaran. (See Australian Sailing magazine October issue for a comparison of the two boats.)

It is not kinown at this stage what Alinghi will do now regarding the venue. The obvious solution is to race in Valencia, where all the facilities are still in place from the 32nd Match. However, wind strengths there in February obviously don't favour Alinghi or Valencia would already be the choice.

Given the high Kiwi contingent in the Alinghi squad and the light winds that can be expected in Auckland in February, the venue for the 2000 and 2003 Matches could be a bolter. The challenger's helmsman, James Spithill, is an Aussie, which would usually guarantee home support for the defender! However, the BMW Oracle CEO and skipper is Russell Coutts, one of New Zealand's favourite sons, and many Kiwis haven't forgiven Brad Butterworth and the other members of Cup-winning Team New Zealand who defected to Alinghi in 2003. So the usual rabid interest in sport on that side of the Tasman would be guaranteed to reach fever pitch. Watch this space!

 

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