Monday, December 7, 2009

UAE port better than Valencia - Bertarelli

Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli says the sailing conditions in Ras al-Khaimah are perfect. Photo / AP
By - AFP
MADRID - The billionaire owner of America's Cup defender Alinghi has reaffirmed his support for holding the next edition in the Gulf emirate of Ras al-Khaimah rather than in the Spanish port of Valencia.

Valencia in February "does not make any sense. We never wanted that. Besides the fact that it is going to be cold, the sailing conditions are far from perfect", Ernesto Bertarelli told an Abu Dhabi newspaper, The National.

After more than two years of legal wrangling, Swiss team Alinghi is set to face US challenger Oracle in a best-of-three duel to decide the 33rd edition of the America's Cup in February 2010.

But the location of the event remains in doubt, with Alinghi challenging a New York court's decision opposing its choice of Ras al-Khaimah.

If the court rejects the appeal then the event is expected to be held in Valencia, the location favoured by Oracle and where Alinghi won the last America's Cup in 2007. A ruling is expected in the next few days.

"The conditions are perfect" in Ras al-Khaimah, while in Valencia "there is no thermal stability in the air", said Bertarelli, a Swiss biotech billionaire.

"It is just the wrong place at the wrong time."

The National, an English-language newspaper, said on its website that Bertarelli would push for Ras al-Khaimah to hold the 34th edition of the Cup if it defeats Oracle in February. But the Swiss syndicate would not confirm that information.

"Nothing has been decided for the 34th edition," an Alinghi spokesman told AFP. "Ras al-Khaimah is the perfect place and could be a beautiful site, as could Valencia."

Oracle, owned by American computer billionaire Larry Ellison, launched a legal challenge in 2007 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.