America's Cup challenger BMW Oracle Racing are requesting that a New York court reject Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates as the venue for the 33rd America's Cup, citing their "grave safety concerns" for their US crew because of the proximity to Iran.
|Swiss America's Cup defender team Alinghi picked the UAE venue in August [EPA]
Two-time defending champions Alinghi of Switzerland picked the Persian Gulf port in August as the site for the best-of-3 showdown between the bitter rivals for the oldest trophy in international sports.
The racing is scheduled to start on February 8.
BMW Oracle Racing, owned by software tycoon Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp., sent a team to inspect the proposed venue and said in a statement that it "fails on every key measure necessary for a successful America's Cup.''
Ras al-Khaimah is "particularly unsuitable'' because the proposed racing area is within 17 miles of islands occupied by Iran in a current territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates, the Americans said. They would like the venue replaced with Valencia, Spain.
"The choice of RAK underscores SNG's abject failure in its responsibilities as Trustee of the America's Cup,'' BMW Oracle Racing skipper and CEO Russell Coutts said in the statement.
"It seems that the Defender is prepared to go to any lengths to make this America's Cup a travesty.''
BMW Oracle Racing said the Swiss cannot select a Northern Hemisphere port without mutual consent of BMW Oracle Racing.
BMW Oracle Racing served Alinghi and its backing yacht club, Societe Nautique de Geneve, with papers and plans to file a motion on Friday with the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
Ras al-Khaimah, or RAK, is on the southern end of the Persian Gulf, near the Strait of Hormuz, which separates the Arabian Peninsula from Iran.
A few days after Alinghi announced the choice of RAK, Ellison questioned the safety of the port, citing its proximity to Iran.
"We're all concerned about the safety of our crew and our shore crew and everyone getting set up there,'' Ellison said during a public presentation of BMW Oracle Racing's crew and giant trimaran in San Diego.
Valencia hosted the America's Cup in 2007, when Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand 5-2 to retain the silver trophy.