DUBAI // While 10 identical yachts will contest this week's Sea Dubai RC44 Cup 2009 finale, only two will battle it out in February's 33rd America's Cup. The vessels and views of that pair, Switzerland's Alinghi catamaran and San Diego-based BMW Oracle Racing's trimaran, could not be more different. Cup holders Alinghi are lodged in a war-of-words turned courtroom battle with challengers Oracle. Their showdown was originally scheduled for Ras al Khamiah in three months time, but the UAE's hosting has been cast in doubt following the verdict of the New York Supreme Court.
"The ongoing dispute is difficult for planning and that's what yacht racing is, it's planning," said Noel Drennan, mainsail trimmer for BMW Oracle Racing's RC44. "With the uncertainty on the venue and the wind limits and such like, it has a big effect - you have to be prepared for everything. It's a big part of yachting and nothing is going to change with that." Having had several weeks to acclimatise to regional waters, Drennan believes it would be to Alinghi's advantage if the 33rd holding of the race was to go ahead in RAK. "If you are dealing the cards and having a look beforehand it is certainly a lot easier," he said.
"If we are going to RAK, they would have a bit of an advantage in having sailed there and optimised their boat for those conditions." With the host venue far from finalised, however, Drennan insisted his crew are ready to wrestle the Cup back, wherever the race is run. "All we know is that Valencia is the default location, so we can't assume anything else," he said. "I don't know where it will be held and I haven't had anything to do with it. It's covered by Russell [Coutts, the skipper], Larry [Ellison, the owner] and our legal team - it's easier for guys like myself to steer well clear and let it get solved."