Valencia Sailing talks to Russell Coutts about the 33rd AC venue
Shortly after the official announcement from Alinghi that the 33rd America's Cup match would be held in Ras al-Khaimah (RAK) in the United Arab Emirates, Valencia Sailing caught up with Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW Oracle. Here's what the kiwi sailor told us in the brief Q&A session:
Valencia Sailing: A possible venue in the UAE was rumored since some time now. We now officially know it's RAK. What problem does BMW Oracle have with racing the 33rd AC match in that particular place?
Russell Coutts: We don’t have experience in Ras al-Khaimah so we will send a team of people there to see what the venue is like.
Valencia Sailing: In the GGYC statement it is mentioned that Alinghi's choice of venue goes against the Deed of Gift and the NY court orders and that you were reviewing "your options". Can you tell us what these options are? Are you going back to court?
Russell Coutts: We have always supported Valencia as a good venue for the 33rd America’s Cup at any time of year. The court also supported Valencia for a Northern Hemisphere venue in February. Our position that any other Northern Hemisphere venue in February would not be Deed-compliant is well known. We remain enthusiastic to race in February and will consider the possibilities to avoid further delay which might happen if we contest their choice of venue.
Valencia Sailing: Have you talked to local officials since the announcement? I suppose you will also send some kind of "recon team" for inspection.
Russell Coutts: Our plan is to speak to Alinghi and the various authorities to try to understand more about the arrangements that have been made to accommodate both teams. We remain enthusiastic to race in February and will consider the possibilities to avoid further delay which might happen if we contest their choice of venue.
Valencia Sailing: Is there any possibility you would agree to RAK as the venue?
Russell Coutts: It’s too early to say. We want to speak to the relevant authorities as to what the plans are for Ras al-Khaimah and then we’ll decide our course of action.
Valencia Sailing: Assuming you go back to court and the decision is in your favor, Alinghi might very well choose a venue in the Southern Hemisphere. Brad Butterworth has stated they looked at possible venues in South America. Would you rather race there than RAK?
Russell Coutts: We are keen to get racing at any venue that meets the requirements of the Deed of Gift unless of course we can reach mutual consent.
Valencia Sailing: Both you and James Spithill have raced with the RC44's in Dubai and probably other members of your crew. As a result, you are probably familiar with local conditions and aren't going into a totally unknown area. Do you have any advantage in that aspect?
Russell Coutts: I personally have raced in Dubai and have been to Abu Dhabi but have never been to Ras al-Khaimah so we don’t know what the weather is like or what facilities are available.
Valencia Sailing: Anything else you might want to add?
Russell Coutts: We have just received SNG's so-called 'measurement procedures'. We are analyzing them now, but there are a number of irregularities.