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America's Cup challenger disputes venue

BMW Oracle Racing will ask a New York court to reject Ras al-Khaimah as the venue for the 33rd America's Cup against two-time defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland.

The United States-based syndicate has cited "grave safety concerns" for its demand. It wants to stage the event at Valencia, Spain, the previous venue.

The team, owned by California software tycoon Larry Ellison, said that Ras al-Khaimah, an emirate of the United Arab Emirates, was unsuitable partly because the proposed racing area was within 27 kilometres of islands occupied by Iran in a territorial dispute with the UAE.

Alinghi picked the Gulf port in August as the site for the best-of-three showdown between the bitter rivals for the oldest trophy in international sports. The racing is scheduled to start on February 8.

Oracle also argued in a statement that Alinghi could not select a northern hemisphere port without mutual consent.

Brad Butterworth, Alinghi skipper, accused Oracle of "unsportsmanlike behaviour" and said the latest legal challenge is an attempt to win the race in court.

"We will only return to the legal process to show that it is sporting character and sailing strategy that wins races, not litigation," he said in a statement.

"As far as BMW Oracle's security concerns: Tiger Woods plays in the UAE every year, Roger Federer plays here every year, and even Russell Coutts sails here every year."

Alinghi's giant catamaran, the Alinghi 5, arrived on Wednesday in the UAE. The 35-metre yacht, backed by Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, made a 12-day journey from Genoa, Italy, aboard a 193-metre Singaporean cargo ship.

Oracle's trimaran is still in testing off San Diego.

Alinghi and Oracle Racing have been arguing over details of the prestigious event ever since the Swiss boat successfully defended the 32nd America's Cup in 2007.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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