x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Dominant Oracle rule on final day

The yacht ruling the waves will cause heartburn to Ras Al Khaimah who were denied hosting of the America's Cup because it could not be held in winter.

DUBAI // The stirring sight of a BMW Oracle Racing yacht ruling the waves off the shores of the UAE yesterday will pour more salt on the wounds of those who had planned to host the US-based team for the America's Cup in February. Ras Al Khaimah Tourism officials are still smarting from the decision in a New York court to rule the emirate an invalid venue for the most prestigious competition in sailing, mainly on the grounds that the event cannot take place in the northern hemisphere in winter.

Holders Alinghi have appealed the court's decision and are waiting for that decision. It was as near as we get to winter in Dubai yesterday as Oracle set off under cloudy skies to prove itself as the dominant boat on the last day of the Sea Dubai RC44 Gold Cup regatta. Missing regular skipper Russell Coutts, the New Zealand master sailor who has three America's Cup wins to his credit, Oracle was steered by his fellow Kiwi Neville Crichton and guided by Noel Drennan to victory in the first two of yesterday's three concluding fleet races.

After leading home No Way Back and Sea Dubai in the opening race and then getting the better of Team Ceeref in the second, expectations were high of an Oracle clean sweep to end the five-day regatta. However, hat-trick hopes were wrecked by a split-second timing error at the start of the last race which forced the crew to turn around and start again. "That was a pity because we didn't think we had overshot the starting line," said Crichton. "But we didn't let it bother us. We have still had a splendid day."

Drennan, one of three potential America's Cup crew members in the team representing Oracle, admitted to feeling frustrated that the showdown with the holders Alinghi has been continually delayed. "We are still preparing to race. There is nothing else we can do," he said.