RAK Attack: The Next Wave. GGYC Pressure SNG Over Terrorist Links.

The latest letter from the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) to SNG, makes no mention of the Deed of Gift. Whether or not Ras Al Khaimah is a valid venue according to the ancient document or the New York courts (GGYC has always maintained that it is not), the new attack on SNG’s responsibilties as trustee of the Cup focusses entirely on reported terrorist links and activity in the UAE state.

The letter, which quotes mostly American news sources as well as UN reports, makes the row about the venue a purely political one. In 1887, when the deed of gift was written, the British were taking over Balochistan and ‘terrorists’ were being hanged in London in regard to the Haymarket Riot. The Deed of Gift makes no rules about the type of regime that must be in place for a Deed of Match venue and similarly makes no mention of political stability with regards to a race.

There is no doubt that the choice of venue is a strange one. RAK is obviously beneficial to Alinghi from the point of view of the prevailing winds and sea-state and perhaps SNG considered that an American team might find it uncomfortable to set up there, but the GGYC accusation that the choice is a breach of fiduciary duty by SNG could reasonably argued based on the venue not being in the best interests of the event, without bringing the terrorist links into the argument. For example,  it would be a harder to find a venue that is less well served by international airlines.

If the last 10 years are anything to go by, American interests are served well by whipping up hysteria around terrorism. Certainly the latest letter is getting the desired effect, with today’s DailySail headline reading – RAK – birthplace of 9/11 hijacker. The line will play well with the ‘anarchists’ and no-doubt will be accepted without question by many media outlets, however it is a very American-centric attitude.

Using the media to prove your case can go both ways. For example, one of the articles that the GGYC letter links to talks about RAK being used as an interchange for goods relating to an Iranian nuclear program, but it also implicates Texas:

In another case, he said a company had imported a shipment of costly high-pressure pipes into British Columbia from Texas, claiming they were for refurbishing steam engines.

The blurring of lines between politics and sport is always a complicated one, but boycotting a country based on the behaviour of its citizens is a slippery slope. Would GGYC accept a venue like DaNang in Vietnam, having about the same latitude as RAK, but also politically charged from an American point of view? One imagines that the answer would be no, but probably not on the same grounds as they oppose RAK. Is the latest letter just another diversion, yet another excuse in the long list of reasons why the event can’t take place?

No doubt, the Americans have their arguments lined up as to why they believe that SNG has not behaved as it should as trustee of the cup. The letter states that SNG’s behaviour over the last 5 years is in question, but the venue decision was only announced a couple of months ago. You really do wonder why BMW-ORACLE didn’t work harder to try and find a way to come to the party when there was a plan to race monohulls in Valencia. Perhaps the rules were bad, but one imagines that the Cup would be in a much better position than it is now.

Perhaps SNG have been in breach of their fiduciary duty as trustees of the Cup, but GGYC has been the challenger of record for a while now and on the face of it, haven’t given an inch – using the courts and the archaic Deed of Gift to get the version of the cup they want. Both sides seem to be equally stubborn and reckless when it comes to the best interests of the America’s Cup and competitive sailing as a whole.

You can find the GGYC letter with weblinks here: http://www.ggyc.com/acnews.php