Persian Gulf Port Dispute in America's Cup

International incident feared amongst the San Francisco Yacht Club set

By Jackson West
|  Monday, Oct 12, 2009  |  Updated 5:45 PM EDT
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Persian Gulf Port Dispute in America's Cup

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The America's Cup would probably be a lot more exciting if pirates or terrorists were involved.

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The first love of the dark lord of databases, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, is probably ruthlessly crushing the competition. But his second love is sailing.

And while the big Oracle conference and trade show down at the Moscone Center is going on, the BMW Oracle Racing team Ellison's company is cosponsoring is complaining about the port of call for the next America's Cup yachting duel.

The current cup holder gets to pick the location of the race, and the Alinghi team from Switzerland chose sunny Ras al-Khaimah, one of the United Arab Emirates on the Persian Gulf.

Small problem -- it's a scant few leagues from Iran, which has posted soldiers on some islands in a land dispute with the UAE, and also serves as a convenient port for Iranian smugglers looking to avoid pesky trade sanctions.

Not since Oracle tangled with German company SAP -- and antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic -- has there been this much international intrigue surrounding Ellison.

So Ellison is tetchy over security at the event, and the team has asked a New York court which has been mediating disputes between the two teams for years, to reject the location.

How about holding the race off the coast of Somalia instead?

Jackson West still wonders how a landlocked country managed to field an America's Cup winner.

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