Get out your Atlas (or Google Earth if you are more techie) and look it up. Somewhere in the Middle East lies this relatively obscure part of the UAE. This is the place that is widely believed to be Alinghi’s chosen venue for the next America’s Cup. The Wall Street Journal yesterday quoted Fred Meyer, vice commodore of the Société Nautique de Genève, who said the venue:
“offers perfect weather and great sailing conditions for a match in February.”
The New York law firms must be happy – the GGYC have gone to court for much less than this and the choice of venue, while rumoured for some time, is one of the most provocative that Alinghi could have chosen.
It’s not Dubai, which has a sailing infrastructure and hosts events like the RC44s. It’s not Oman who have invested heavily in developing their position as a sailing nation through events like the iShares Cup. It’s not Abu Dhabi, who have managed to attract an F1 race in 2009. If Alinghi get their way, It’s going to be Ras al-Khaimah.
The WSJ report says that the event will be held on an island built inside the Al Hamra Village lagoon which will serve as the base for the teams and offer accommodations for the media, sponsors and fans. The Al Hamra Village is a new luxury resort on the coast of Ras al-Khaimah.
Fred Meyer in an official statement released today says:
“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. This is a venue that offers perfect weather and great sailing conditions for a Match in February; the authorities have shown tremendous interest in, and support for hosting the America’s Cup; and the country has experience in organising first-class sporting events such as ATP tennis, PGA golf and Formula One. They will make a purpose-built island available at the Al Hamra Village in Ras al-Khaimah to provide the America’s Cup teams, sponsors and fans with an outstanding venue.”
His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah, expresses his satisfaction:
“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. It is a reflection on what we have achieved in terms of becoming the destination for tourists and trade and industry and is a reflection of our integration in the world at large. This announcement reflects the nature of our country and its aim of becoming host to many nationalities who live side by side in peace. It is a hope and dream that this is the kind of space that we want to have on our globe. It is a great moment for us to host this prestigious event and to welcome all the sports people to the UAE and to Ras al-Khaimah to watch this great event; we are looking forward to its success.”
While some are suggesting that a venue 130 miles from a border with Iran might be an issue, Alinghi are thinking about the American team’s sponsors though. Listed on the release are some of the companies that have a presence in the UAE including BMW and ORACLE. The computer generated animation of the venue is less kind, showing the Alinghi base with facilities, while the other side has a black trimaran hanging from a crane.
Given GGYC’s statements and behaviour over the last 24 months or so, there is a high chance that the two sides will be back in a New York Court, but the venue might suit BMW ORACLE and they might decide to call the bluff of SNG and get on with the race.