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August 6, 2009

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America's Cup to be hosted by UAE port

THE United Arab Emirates has been named as the venue for the America's Cup race which will be held in February, the defending champion Alinghi said yesterday.

"Ras al-Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates, will be the host country for the 33rd America's Cup," said Fred Meyer, vice-commodore of the Societe Nautique de Geneve, in a statement issued by the team.

"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," added Meyer.

Alinghi, which sails under the colors of the SNG and is backed by billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, has the right to choose the venue as the defending champion.

Its opponent in the best-of-three showdown is the BMW Oracle team, which sails under the colors of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

The two sides have been locked in a legal dispute for the last two years over the terms of the race.

Racing boat

BMW Oracle has accused Alinghi of unfairly changing the rules of the race and also believes SNG has installed an engine on its racing boat that is not permitted by sailing rules. The two sides have been ordered to appear in a New York court on August 10 for a hearing on race guidelines.

"Our absolute priorities in making this decision are the prevailing weather conditions and the resulting safety that they bring to both teams," said Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth.

"We looked everywhere for a venue that suited having good racing for the match dates in February.

"We had trained in the UAE in the winter with Alinghi before and in the end we settled on Ras al-Khaimah in particular because of the infrastructure and 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."

Alinghi will sail a catamaran and BMW Oracle Racing a trimaran. The boats are 90 feet long and have masts roughly the height of a 16-story building and mainsails twice the size of a Boeing 747's wing.

Alinghi won the America's Cup in 2003 and defended the title four years later in Spain.


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