It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone that the Golden Gate Yacht Club doesn’t want to sail the next America’s Cup race in Ras al-Khaimah. The American team has been pretty consistent in their view that the arcane laws governing the event don’t allow for a northern hemisphere venue without mutual consent, with the exception of Valencia.
Now the official line is that such consent is not coming from the BMW ORACLE team. GGYC waited until the first images were published of Alinghi’s catmaran being unloaded off the ship in the UAE state to issue their statement, though papers in Abu Dhabi had quoted Russell Coutts as not being happy with the venue.
Meanwhile, another letter was sent from SNG Vice Commodore Fred Meyer to GGYC Commodore Marcus Young welcoming the American Team to RAK having heard from the local authorities that the delegation sent to check out the infrastructure liked the place. Whatever the delgation said to their middle eastern hosts doesn’t make much difference – the official position is that GGYC and BMW ORACLE want to go racing in Valencia in February. And so… it’s back to court.
GGYC’s position on the mutual consent, deed, Valencia thing is well documented, but on the venue they say:
BMW Oracle Racing sent a team to inspect SNG’s proposed venue, and, although the team was met warmly by the local authorities, it was clear that the RAK venue fails on every key measure necessary for a successful America’s Cup, including: lack of infrastructure, security and wind. Moreover, in light of the developing situation in the Arabian Gulf region, Ras al-Khaimah is particularly unsuitable. SNG’s proposed course area is within 17 miles of islands occupied by Iran in a current territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates – of which Ras al-Khaima is a member state.
“The choice of RAK underscores SNG’s abject failure in its responsibilities as Trustee of the America’s Cup,” said Russell Coutts, skipper and CEO of GGYC’s BMW Oracle Racing team. “It seems that the Defender is prepared to go to any lengths to make this America’s Cup a travesty.”
Obvioulsy there is no love lost between the teams and their owners, but the fallout will be much more widespread if the event is moved back to Valencia. Though Alinghi may have been rash to start any investment in the UAE without a nod from GGYC, the American team won’t make many friends in the Middle East if the event doesn’t happen.
For fans of cranes and docks and stuff, here is some video of Alinghi arriving in the UAE.