x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Alternatives are Auckland and Valencia

As the Deed of Gift offers specific guidance on where the races may be held, options for venues other than Ras al Khaimah are limited.

The Viaduct Harbour in Auckland after Alinghi's victory in the America's Cup competition of 2003.
The Viaduct Harbour in Auckland after Alinghi's victory in the America's Cup competition of 2003.

As the Deed of Gift offers specific guidance on where the races may be held, options for venues other than Ras al Khaimah are limited. Opting for the BMW Oracle suggestion of returning to Valencia, where the 32nd staging of the America's Cup resulted in a successful 5-2 defence by the Swiss team Alinghi over Team New Zealand, is the most likely way the Cup can be won and lost in February.

The Deed of Gift states that the race may not be held in the Northern Hemisphere in winter. Valencia is the exception, thanks to a 2008 court ruling that "the location of the match be in Valencia or any other location" selected by the defending club, Société Nautique de Genève. The most recent court ruling, issued on Tuesday in New York and in which RAK was ruled ineligible, apparently interpreted the phrase "any other location" from the 2008 decision to mean any Southern Hemisphere venue in accordance with the deed.

That being the case, the only plausible venue other than Valencia lies in Auckland, New Zealand. That city, which played host to the competition three times in the 1990s, is in the home country of both skippers. Russell Coutts, the non-sailing skipper of the BMW Oracle team funded by the software mogul Larry Ellison, put forward the Kiwi Marina as a possible site when RAK was disqualified. Brad Butterworth, the Alinghi skipper, who has enjoyed two of his four America's Cup triumphs off the coast of his homeland, is equally familiar with the conditions there and would probably comply if his team's backer, Ernesto Bertarelli, put the idea to him.

Butterworth sailed on the winning Team New Zealand boat in Auckland in 2000, and three years later served under Coutts on Alinghi. Coutts, skipper of that Alinghi crew, which had Butterworth as a tactician, said: "I think it's very clear that it has to be either Valencia, or Alinghi has to come and talk to us about alternative venues and both parties mutually have to agree." wjohnson@thenational.ae