33rd Americas Cup
Questions + Answers about Ras al-Khaimah the new venue for the America’s Cup
05.08.2009 (18:18 CET) – Geneva, Switzerland – Société Nautique de Genève
Where is Ras al-Khaimah?
Ras al-Khaimah is one of the seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE); it covers an area of 656 square miles (1,700km2) and borders on Oman, situated in the southern part of the Persian Gulf. The capital city of Ras al-Khaimah is located 45 minutes from Dubai airport and is also served by the Ras al-Khaimah International airport. The 300,000 population is ruled by HH Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammad al-Qasimi. The Deputy Ruler is Crown Prince HH Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi.
What are the reasons for choosing the UAE and Ras-al-Khaimah?
1. The absolute priority in making the venue decision was the prevailing weather conditions and the resulting safety they bring to both teams.
2. The investment and the infrastructure provided was another important reason: a purpose-built island is being made available for both teams to operate from.
3. The experience and commitment the UAE has in hosting international high-standard sporting, arts and business activities.
Why this choice over somewhere like Dubai where Alinghi had already trained in 2006/2007?
We looked at the Emirates and many other places but in the end we settled on Ras al-Khaimah because it has a great building sea breeze during the day, similar to Mediterranean conditions in the summer, making it good for these boats and safe for all concerned.
Isn’t it a conflict region?
The UAE is recognised worldwide to be extremely secure; testimony to this is the fact that some of the most important international corporations have business interests and investments in the country, particularly coming from the USA. It is also a popular venue for sporting events: Tiger Woods is currently designing his first golf course in Dubai; Roger Federer, the Williams sisters and other tennis stars play in the country every year; there will be a Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi in October and Russell Coutts sails there each year with his RC44 class. The Arts are also very well represented in the region: Guggenheim is building a museum in Abu Dhabi and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra will perform there as well.
Even Harvard has a School and Medical Centre in Dubai.
How will you tackle security concerns?
The UAE is among the safest countries in the region, a fact that is acknowledged around the world and Ras al-Khaimah in particular is known for its peace and stability.
How much has Ras al-Khaimah paid SNG to host the 33rd AC?
There is no venue fee.
Why is there no venue fee?
Because the venue is already making a considerable investment in infrastructure.
Does the facility provide for both teams?
Yes it does on a purpose-built America’s Cup Island in Al-Hamra Village near Ras al-Khaimah.
What are the overall facilities provided by the venue?
A 22-hectare purpose-built island inside the Al Hamra Village lagoon – a new luxury resort on the coast of Ras al-Khaimah – will host the team bases and all the necessary facilities for both teams, the media, the sponsors and the public. There is an 18-hole golf course, 5-star accommodation and 3,500 residences. Ras al-Khaimah is making a multi-million dollar investment to ensure a high standard venue for the 33rd America’s Cup.
BMW Oracle says that the Deed doesn’t allow a Northern Hemisphere venue in February, other than Valencia, in contradiction to the New York Court order (below).
What is Alinghi’s position?
We are confident that the NY Court order of 12 May 2008 allows for a Northern Hemisphere venue in February other than Valencia. Excerpt from 12 May Court order: “[…] ORDERED that the location of the match shall be in Valencia, Spain or any other location selected by SNG, provided SNG notify GGYC in writing not less than six months in advance of the date set for the first challenge match race of the location it has selected for the challenge match races; and it is further […]”
What is the alternative if the court decides against SNG’s choice of a Northern Hemisphere venue other than Valencia?
As ever we will accept the NY Court’s order just as we follow the provisions of the Deed of Gift and will look for an acceptable alternative.
The America’s Cup Heads to the Persian Gulf
Alinghi Picks United Arab Emirates for Showdown With BMW Oracle; Mideast as Sports Destination
By REED ALBERGOTTI And DARREN EVERSON
In a move that spotlights the Middle East’s new role as a sports powerhouse, the Swiss sailing team Alinghi and its yacht club, the Société Nautique de Genève, said Tuesday that the 33rd America’s Cup sailing race will be held at Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates for the first time.
High Seas, High Stakes
Alinghi officials confirmed the decision in interviews a day before the closely watched announcement.
Ras al-Khaimah, which literally means “top of the tent” in Arabic, is located in the southern part of the Persian Gulf about 134 miles from Abu Dhabi and 100 miles form the southern coast of Iran. In a statement, Fred Meyer, vice commodore of the Société Nautique de Genève, said the venue “offers perfect weather and great sailing conditions for a match in February.”
Brad Butterworth, Alinghi team skipper and four-time America’s Cup winner
(Photo credit: Carlo Borlenghi/Alinghi)
Response to Tom Ehman in Valencia Sailing – letter from Brad Butterworth
“Tom Ehman’s interview in Valencia Sailing deserves an appropriate response:
In almost 140 years of America’s Cup competition, innovation is often accompanied by whines of “illegality” or “unfair” from the other camp. Alinghi however, cannot take any innovation credit in using powered systems, and Tom Ehman’s predictable whines are again wide of the mark. Onboard powered systems have been with the top end of the sport for more than a dozen years. Just take a closer look at the yachts competing in blue ribbon events such as the Sydney-Hobart, Newport to Bermuda, Volvo Ocean Race, Transpac as well as some World Championships such as the Maxi Worlds. Are they all cheats too, Tom?
If the new self-appointed purists of the sport are upset at the use of onboard powered systems, they need to take it up with the innovators of the game, but they have not only missed the boat, they have been missing it for years.
Can anyone fairly criticise Alinghi for using the best technology in what is an open design competition? Anyone reading the Mercury Bay judgements can read in simple black and white terms that there are no design rules except the broad dimensions specified in the Deed, and within these the challenger is free to commit to the dimensions of their yacht when making its challenge and the defender is free to respond. You can be sure the BMW Oracle designers are not thrilled to hear someone on their side might have put them wrong on the rules.
Now Tom Ehman is trying to sell us Mercury Bay and the 27th Match in 1988 as some kind of Californian “love-in”. That will come as a big surprise to those who lead and bankrolled the Mercury Bay Challenge and the three years of litigation it involved. Eight court hearings up and down the New York court system was just a bit of fun? No, mutual consent was as short on the ground then as it is now. The litigation might have been fun for Tom back in 1988 just as it seems to be to him now, but no one else is smiling Tom. The business of the Cup is in ruins but the Deed must prevail. Make no mistake; the Mercury Bay Boating Club contested the rules of the 27th Match produced by Tom Ehman right up to the very end. The measure of a man is how he takes his own medicine.
Next Tom Ehman wants to litigate the venue selection. He has flipped-flopped on this as well. He publicly announced last year after the Court’s order was made, that the Defender could choose a venue anywhere it wished, in either hemisphere. Only two months ago in May they issued press statements critical of Alinghi for what they said was defying the Court’s order in respect of the dates of the Match, which conflicted with the terms of the Deed of Gift. Now Ehman wants Alinghi to ignore the same Court order (and the Court’s subsequent directions), and follow the Deed in selecting the venue. How does he lie in bed straight?
Just when you thought……you ain’t seen nothing yet
What Justice Kornreich added in her decision that previously was not mentioned is something really new and different – no rules. You heard that right. Société Nautique De Genève (SNG) can change any rule in any way at any time up to the “start of the race.” SNG is not limited by Rule 86.1(b) as to what rules it can change. Although it might get its wrist slapped by International Sailing Federation (ISAF), it can throw out the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) altogether and institute something completely different at any time of its choosing.
Thus, when Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) shows up with every muscle and neuron programmed to execute every match racing move instinctively, SNG can announce: “By the way, we are going to round to port, port will have right of way over starboard and windward will have right of way over leeward. You are really going to like our rules. We have been practicing them for months and think they are great – once you get used to them.” Indeed, although it might owe ISAF a few Euros, and get some grief from ISAF, SNG can send ISAF and its International Jury packing and appoint a jury of three blind mice, with no right of appeal.
Any reproduction of the information herein must credit as follows:
Cory E. Friedman/Scuttlebutt
Part 41 – Heads I win – Tails you lose
“You are going to have to learn, . . ., the black arts, particularly
counterintelligence – the uses of information, disinformation, and how their use is ultimately… power.” – Philip Allen (William Hurt) to Edward Wilson (Matt Damon) in The Good Shepherd, Universal Pictures 2006.
“Please don’t throw me in the briar patch.” Br’er Rabbit to Br’er Fox. Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation, 1881.
SPOILER ALERT – UNTIL THE COURT RULES EVERYTHING YOU READ IS PROVISIONAL AND THE FINAL RULING COULD BE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.
(July 21, 2009) Société Nautique De Genève (SNG) seemingly won a major victory today before Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich in the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court when Justice Kornreich told Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) – to absolutely no knowledgeable lawyer’s surprise – that there was no basis to hold SNG in contempt of court. To paraphrase Plutarch regarding King Pyrrhus, a few more such victories and SNG will be undone.
SNG essentially has been maintaining that it has the right to change the America’s Cup Match rules however and whenever it chooses and either drop ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) numbers 49 through 54 (including stored power and movable ballast) or enforce them as it decided. SNG also maintained that it could decide measurement rules and procedures as it chose. Thus GGYC’s design team perpetually would be off balance.
What became clear in today’s hearing is that, slightly more than six months before the first race of the Match, one of the world’s largest software manufacturers just does not care what the design rules are, as long as it knows what they are. That can only be true if a couple of things are assumed.
First of all, whatever the 90 x 90 trimaran GGYC has been trialing is called (if anything), it is not “USA,” the Challenger, and never was intended to be. It is probably a development platform, training machine and trial horse. Besides, every sailor knows that changing a boat’s name is bad luck. The second is that GGYC probably is not the slightest bit surprised by the powered winches or possible movable ballast on Alinghi 5. All of that amateurish cloak and dagger nonsense about taking pictures of SNG’s tent was probably a diversion for some of the real thing – which no one will ever find out about. The third is that GGYC will be able to launch a boat taking full advantage of the suspension of Rules 49-54 or a new boat complying with those rules with plenty of time for development, by picking up where the present boat leaves off. The fourth is that GGYC will do whatever it takes.
No. Look, I have no connection whatsoever with Ernesto Bertarelli
Valencia Sailing: I have a lot of questions and I will start with the most direct one, asked by several of our readers. Are you a pawn of Alinghi, used in their quest to buy time in order to better prepare for the inevitable one-on-one race with BMW Oracle?
Francesco de Leo: No, we are absolutely not their pawns. This is a challenge that started with completely different objectives and has its own global agenda. It isn’t a coincidence that we are called Green Comm and this has to do with my personal background. Probably your readers don’t know it but I won the third mobile phone license in Spain when I was managing director of Telecom Italia, the youngest managing director of a listed company in Italy because at the age of 35 I was the managing director of M&A, of international operations, of business development as well as manager of our affiliates abroad. I was in charge of 12,000 employees and 9 billion euros of business.
Valencia Sailing: Let me rephrase the question. Is Green Comm’s challenge a delaying tactic used by Alinghi?
Francesco de Leo: No. Look, I have no connection whatsoever with Ernesto Bertarelli…
Valencia Sailing: That was my following question. Are Ernesto Bertarelli or Alinghi, directly or indirectly, financing Green Comm?
Francesco de Leo: The answer is again no. I have to admit I’m also very surprised with these questions that your readers posted on your website. Let me clarify it once and for all. The reason I am talking to you today is to clarify that this is an independent, unrelated challenge and I am myself, Francesco de Leo, organizing it.
Is America’s Cup Finally Out of the Courts and Into the Water?
The BWM Oracle trimaran in sea trials last year for the 2008 edition of the America’s Cup
By CHRISTOPHER CLAREY
Published: May 15, 2009
BOSTON — With money dwindling and egos still the customary size, sports people keep arguing about the future. From the paddocks of Formula One to the tunnels of soccer to the New York courts charged with bringing order to the America’s Cup, the debates about what happens next have turned ugly.
BMW Oracle’s lawsuit forced Bertarelli and Alinghi to scuttle their plans and set of rules for the next America’s Cup, which had originally been scheduled for this year in Valencia in monohulls with multiple challengers.
But the America’s Cup at last seems ready to leave behind the litigation and get back to navigation. Or are we still naïve to think that the lawyering will ever stop after nearly two years of affidavits, bad decisions and bad blood?
“Never say never,” said Paco Latorre, a spokesman for Alinghi, the defender of the oldest major trophy in international sport. “But it does appear to be the end of the court part. We have clarity.”
It is not the sort of clarity either the Alinghi president, Ernesto Bertarelli, or BMW Oracle Racing’s owner, Larry Ellison, were seeking when they invested themselves and some of their many millions in this expensive hobby, which has been compared with standing under a cold shower ripping up $100 bills.
Both billionaires are quite accustomed to getting what they want in life, and both jumped into the game in Auckland, New Zealand, for the challenger series at the 2002 Cup. On the water, Bertarelli clearly has been the winner, taking the Cup on his first attempt with a yacht-load of hired New Zealand help, including the skipper Russell Coutts, and then defending it in Valencia, Spain, in 2007.
But Ellison, the software impresario who has yet to make it to the America’s Cup match, has clearly been the winner so far off the water and not just because Coutts — the most successful modern-day helmsman — is now on his team.