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Wed 4 Nov 2009 08:40 AM

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America's Cup holders to appeal RAK ban

Defending champions Alinghi set to challenge ruling barring emirate as cup host.

The defending America's Cup champion is appealing a US court ruling that bars the next edition of yachting's top race from being held in its preferred venue of Ras al-Khaimah in the UAE.

The appeal filed on Monday in a New York state appeals court marked the latest chapter in a more than two-year legal battle over terms of the 33rd edition of the race.

Swiss team Alinghi, as defending champion, is entitled to name the site for the next race so long as it fits within cup rules.

Alinghi said it chose Ras al-Khaimah because of its ideal sailing conditions as a venue for the February race, while California-based challenger BMW Oracle insists the race be held in Valencia, Spain, the site of the previous America's Cup competition in 2007.

Alinghi sails under the colors of Societe Nautique de Geneve and is backed by Swiss biotechnology billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli. BMW Oracle sails under the colors of the Golden Gate Yacht Club and is backed by Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison.

A New York judge ruled last month the race must be held in the southern hemisphere or in Valencia.

According to the Deed of Gift, the document that established the cup's rules, races held between November and May must take place in the southern hemisphere.

A previous ruling held that Valencia - which is in the northern hemisphere as is Ral al-Khaimah - was the only exception to that rule because it was the site of the previous race and both sides agreed it was an acceptable alternative.

A spokesman for Alinghi said the team agreed to Valencia before the race date was moved to February 2010 from May 2009. He said Valencia was not acceptable for a wintertime race.

"It was just a flat-out error," Barry Ostrager, a lawyer for Alinghi, said of the ruling.

BMW Oracle said in a statement that Valencia "remains the best choice for everyone."

"Its facilities and infrastructure are proven and ready," the statement said. (Reuters)

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