Alinghi, Oracle agree on best-of-7

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- The America's Cup duel between Alinghi and BMW Oracle is headed for a best-of-seven series despite unpredictable weather conditions threatening the schedule.

A New York court ruled against a Persian Gulf venue for the Deed of Gift match, which is set to begin Feb. 8 in Valencia, Spain.

Negotiations are ongoing but all sides are committed to extending the best-of-three matchup.

"Everyone agrees that it would be best to have it as a best-of-seven," Alinghi spokesman Paco Latorre told The Associated Press as discussions continued between the teams and the Spanish city over logistics of the event.

BMW Oracle spokesman Tom Ehman also confirmed that desire on Friday.

But a planned Valentine's Day finale may not happen due to the coastal city's unstable February wind, which will pose a challenge to sailing crews and organizers alike.

"The wind conditions are unsettled and variable. We're expecting the wind not to be consistent during the whole race and the same direction," Alinghi strategist Murray Jones told the AP. "I think we could well have quite a few postponements."

Jones was ready to participate in any number of races, although he preferred a shorter event.

"With more races it kind of drags on for some time and people can lose interest," the New Zealander said. "A high-impact, short event makes sense."

A New York appeals court ruled earlier this week that Ras al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, doesn't qualify under the 19th-century Deed of Gift to be the port of choice. The race in Spain will end a long-running courtroom dispute that started after Alinghi retained the trophy in July 2007.

Jones is in Ras al-Khaimah preparing to move the gigantic catamaran that Alinghi has constructed for the matchup as the Swiss team moves out of its Emirates base.

There's no animosity toward the American crew, which has challenged the two-time winner's interpretation of the rules since Alinghi crossed the finish line to close the 32nd edition.

"It's a grudge match between the teams of lawyers, not between the two sailing teams," Jones said.