America’s Cup set for Valencia in February
The next America’s Cup looks set to take place in the Spanish Mediterranean port of Valencia in February, after more than two years of legal wrangling over the conditions and venue for yachting’s most prestigious event.
Defender Alinghi of Switzerland said on Tuesday it is ready to hold its three-leg duel with Oracle in Valencia from February 8, the site and date favoured by the US challenger.
Oracle responded by saying it was “very pleased to see that SNG/Alinghi have finally agreed with us that Valencia in February is the correct venue to hold the 33rd America’s Cup.”
Alinghi and Oracle, owned respectively by Swiss biotech billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli and American computer billionaire Larry Ellison, have been locked in a legal battle over the event since the Swiss syndicate won the last edition in Valencia in 2007.
Oracle first launched a legal challenge that accused Alinghi, which as defending champion is charged with organising the next event, of bending the rules to give it an unfair advantage.
The New York Supreme Court ruled in April that the Cup should be settled by a one-on-one multihull duel between the two sides next February instead of the traditional fully-fledged regatta with several teams.
But the two had remained in dispute over the venue.
Alinghi, whose home club is the Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG), said it agreed to Valencia after “unsuccessful discussions” with Oracle over a site.
Alinghi had originally sought to stage the event in the Gulf emirate of Ras al-Khaimah.
But Kornreich ruled the site invalid, upholding a challenge by Oracle, which is represented by the Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) of San Francisco.
In talks with Oracle that began in New York at the weekend, Alinghi proposed “two alternative Southern Hemisphere venues: Proserpine/Airlie Beach and Townsville in Australia, where the weather conditions are suitable in February,” Alinghi said.
“While SNG confirms Valencia as the venue for the 33rd America’s Cup in February 2010, the offer to GGYC of an Australian venue for the same date remains on the table until 13 November 2009 provided GGYC agrees to withdraw all legal actions,” it said.
In her ruling blocking Ras al-Khaimah, Kornreich said that under the Deed of Gift, the 19th century rules that govern the trophy, the America’s Cup cannot be held in the Northern Hemisphere between November 1 and May 1.
However, she made an exception by allowing the race to be held in Valencia.