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America's Cup: RAK to adopt wait and watch approach

A New York decreeing late on Tuesday that the choice of Ras Al Khaimah as a venue is not compliant with the Deed of Gift

  • The Alinghi catamaran in waters off Ras Al Khaimah for a media demonstration. Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Naturally we are [saddened by] the turn of events, but what can we do? We can only wait and watch, says Dr. KhImage Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A top official from Ras Al Khaimah told Gulf News the emirate prefers to adopt a policy of “wait and watch” following a New York court ruling the northern emirate cannot play host to the 33rd America’s Cup as per yatching rules.

“Of course we are sad with the turn of events, but what can we do?” Dr Khater Massa’ad, CEO of the Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (Rakia) said on Wednesday. “There is very little that we can do at this moment. We can just wait and watch. Of course we will study the order from the New York Court and watch the developments that are taking place with regards to the venue,” Dr Massa’ad added.

“In the meantime we will hold discussions with Alinghi and see how things develop. We will prefer waiting till tomorrow,” he said.

With the New York court decreeing late on Tuesday that the choice of Ras Al Khaimah as a venue is not compliant with the Deed of Gift, it looks quite unlikely that the race may be held here in February.

The choice of Ras Al Khaimah has always been a bone of contention for millionaire Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing on the grounds that the place is unsafe due to its proximity to Iran. Till date, BMW Oracle Racing – who have been practicing for the 33rd edition of the America’s Cup off San Diego, California – have approached the court a record seven times in an attempt to get the Defender to accept a venue of their liking.

Earlier this month, Massa’ad filed a brief in the New York court saying that Ras Al Kahimah was “surprised and offended” by BMW Oracle’s claim that the emirate was not a safe venue to host the regatta in February.

Alinghi, run by Swiss biotech millionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, maintained throughout the court battle that Ras Al Khaimah fulfils all requirements of a safe venue for the Cup. The court verdict itself steered clear of any concerns over the safety of Ras Al Khaimah as a venue due to its proximity to Iran.

For BMW Oracle Racing’s BOR 90 trimaran, it has been business as usual on the water as the boat went into a series of modifications to return on the water off San Diego later on Tuesday. It has been nearly five weeks since the trimaran was last on the water as the BMW Oracle Racing team used this time under the supervision of New Zealand’s Mark A. Turner to get some modifications done.

“These last five weeks have seen some very long hours from these guys, as we’ve had a lot of things to achieve. It’s really come together over the last few days so it’s a big credit to everybody involved,” Turner said in the team’s official website.

Much of this round of work was necessitated after Alinghi issued a change in the rules that will now allow the use of engines to assist in trimming the sails. The power provided by the engine will replace power normally provided by the human power plants on board sailboats – the grinders. The addition of the engine has thus had a repercussion on the deck plan and layout, as the grinders will no longer be on board.

“There has been a major deck modification and there’s the new engine installation to drive the winches with hydraulics, and a series of other changes. So it’s been a long list of tasks to be completed in quite a short timeframe,” Turner added. The trimaran will now undergo a series of tests dockside before on the water testing resumes later this week.