x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Troubled water threatens America's Cup

The owner of the BMW Oracle team raises concerns over the staging of the America's Cup in Ras al Khaimah.

The owner of the BMW Oracle team Larry Ellison has raised concerns over the staging of the America's Cup in Ras al Khaimah.
The owner of the BMW Oracle team Larry Ellison has raised concerns over the staging of the America's Cup in Ras al Khaimah.

Ras al Khaimah was yesterday described as too dangerous a venue to stage next year's America's Cup yacht racing event in view of its proximity to Iran. The surprising attack on the sleepy emirate's safety was made by Larry Ellison, founder and chief executive of the Oracle Corp and owner of the BMW Oracle team who are due to challenge the Cup holders Alinghi, of Switzerland, off the UAE coast in February.

"I'm a little bit concerned because it's less than 100 miles from Iran, so we're all concerned about the safety of our crew and our shore crew and everyone setting up there," said Ellison, who is due to sail in the three-race series. The American-based Ellison has never visited the UAE. "People say, 'Oh my God, the Emirates, that's where Roger Federer trains for tennis and that's where Formula One races'. Not this part of the Emirates," he said.

"There's an oil depot, we're concerned about electricity, we're concerned about a lot of things. We're concerned about the proximity to Iran. "I know a lot of people in the UAE. We like them a lot. Oracle does a lot of business with the UAE. I've nothing bad to say about the UAE at all, but we are concerned about the suitability of this particular venue for a race like this." Ellison's remarks brought an immediate rebuttal from the rival Alinghi team.

"It is like saying England is dangerous because the IRA is close by in Ireland," said spokesman Paco Latorre. "Every place in the world has security issues. Iran is 100 miles from RAK but do you think Iran is going to launch an attack on the UAE just because we have the America's Cup there? The UAE is one of the safest places on earth." Yesterday's outburst by Ellison follows the threat of legal action from the challenging consortium to move the venue to Valencia, host city for the races in 2007.

BMW Oracle chief executive Sir Russell Coutts has said privately that he just wants to get on with the racing and is unlikely to contest Alinghi's choice of venue. wjohnson@thenational.ae