x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

RAK 'unsafe' claims scoffed at by Butterworth

Alinghi's skipper, Brad Butterworth, has ridiculed the BMW Oracle Racing's suggestions the northern emirate is an unsafe venue.

With BMW Oracle Racing set to lodge a seventh legal challenge to stop America's Cup rivals Alinghi hosting the competition's 33rd edition in Ras al Khaimah next February, the Swiss-based team's skipper, Brad Butterworth, has ridiculed the Americans' suggestions the northern emirate is an unsafe venue. Having spent months arguing with Alinghi over their host selection, the US-based challenger was yesterday expected to file a motion asking the New York Supreme Court to switch the race to Valencia, Spain, on safety grounds.

Butterworth, however, insists BMW Oracle's latest legal threat only further demonstrates the team's "unsportsmanlike" behaviour. "Tiger Woods plays in the UAE every year, Roger Federer plays here every year, and even Russell Coutts [the BMW Oracle skipper and CEO] sails here every year," said Butterworth. "We believe this lawsuit is yet another tactic employed by Larry Ellison [the team owner] and BMW Oracle to avoid racing us for the Cup on the water."

The four-time winner added: "They seem to believe the America's Cup can be won in court." Butterworth's retort was in response to BMW Oracle's earlier statement, in which the Americans, who have already sent an inspection team to RAK, reiterated their view the venue's close proximity to Iran - teams will negotiate waters around the Strait of Hormuz - will put their crew in danger. RAK, read BMW Oracle's statement, is "particularly unsuitable [as host, and it] ... fails on every key measure necessary for a successful America's Cup".

"The choice of RAK underscores [Alinghi's] abject failure in its responsibilities as Trustee of the America's Cup," the statement added. Coutts, one of the most decorated helmsmen in sailing history, has also expressed his dismay at Alinghi's venue choice. "It seems that the Defender is prepared to go to any lengths to make this America's Cup a travesty," said Coutts in the same statement. emegson@thenational.ae