Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chris Dickson is officially out of BMW Oracle

It was supposed to be a day off and most of the journalists in Valencia were either heading back home or relaxing at the beach in this beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon. Unfortunately, somebody in BMW Oracle had the idea to urgently summon the press to their base in order to make an announcement.

We were welcomed in the American team's in-house movie theater by Russell Green, Business Director, Mirko Groeschner, Marketing Director, and Laurent Esquier, Operations Director. First, Green made an official announcement, stating that Chris Dickson had resigned from all his duties in BMW Oracle and as of today he didn't form part of the team. This didn't really come as a surprise and it was the only exit way for the New Zealander. On the contrary, any other option would have been puzzling.

After that brief statement it was the journalists turn to start asking questions that unfortunately were left unanswered. The most frequent reply was, "this will be decided by Larry Ellison". Of course there were some speculative questions regarding the alleged withdrawal of BMW from the team or even Russell Coutts enjoying the team's hospitality last week in view of a possible incorporation. There was no comment on the first, while on the second it was left clear Coutts didn't visit the base in Valencia.

The only official news is that Gavin Brady is now responsible of the sailing team and that BMW Oracle will participate in the exhibition regatta to take place late September in San Fracisco. All other issues are still under consideration and the team's major task right now is to gradually wind down its operations in Valencia.

It was a senseless press conference but at least we all received a nice polo shirt and ate some appetizing Spanish "jamón".



At 8:21 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Nothing "new" here, therefore I like to know if they served you with jamon cerano or with Jabugo? ;-))

At 3:08 AM, Blogger Mark said...

I hate to flame on this subject, but anyone seriously interested in America's Cup should be looking to get pissed off and contact people that are involved in fielding America's team(s)... and definitely sending letters to US Sailing and the USSFoundation . This year's single entry in the America's Cup race, Team BMW Oracle , was really a prime representation of the lack of character that has over- run so much of the United States in the past two decades. Speaking as a former public school educator - someone who is ashamed to have a president that is surely not as smart as most of my neighbors - and as an avid sailing enthusiast... I can't understand why, with regard to the oldest sporting trophy, we are not outraged at the performance (or lack of) that has undergone our participation in seeking this important international reflection of our country.

A brief look at the crew of this year's US entry will reveal a ship full of foreigners... mostly Kiwi’s (modern day rivals and contenders of the cup). See the following to view USA's crew members:

Only the fat-cat Afterguard are American's. Instead of waiting until too late to make Chris Dickson walk the plank the US should have sought a crew of America's to recapture the longest held US trophy. This approach to American pride would have found us placing ads to hire Germans to fight Hitler. How can you even respect the idea of recapturing America's Cup when the opposition fights the battle for you? I am not a bigot or a racist… unless believing that in terms of a competition where teams represent a country, team-members ought to be from that country or have some direct connection to it in terms of their heritage.

It is a sad day... and has been for some time in the United States. As a teacher in our nation's schools I struggled over the past two decades to resist the melting away of our children's character in the face of a society that cares too little and understands even less about the battle still facing us in the world. Our country is course to become the Rome of history books in 3000 AD.

I hope people will contact the USSF and make a plea for making our next opportunity at The Cup less about how much we can spend and more about how much pride we can rebuild into the effort to make this again a reflection of the character of the United States. I believe an effort to make the America’s Cup a mission to recapture pride in America, with our own people fighting the battle, and our heritage as a nation on the line, would promote widespread interest and support from a nation looking for a light on the horizon.

Shame on us for our efforts in this year’s Cup and for those that supported such an effort...

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe the name of the Cup should be changed to the "Kiwi's Cup" !! After all there is hardly a team in the regatta without a Kiwi on board and the top teams have a core of Kiwis.

Like Mark, I believe that national representation should rule since the teams all carry nationalistic identification on their sails. Perhaps it is time to introduce a rule that says one country, one challenger and that the representational team should comprise 75-?% nationals of the country the team represents, with a residency requirement that prevents the passport juggling that we have witnessed in the past.

Sadly for the rest of the world this would leave NZ with a huge talent pool from which to draw - though their respect for loyalty (to NZ) is such that there would be a number of top sailors who would be excluded from any Team NZ - Chris Dickson, Russell Coutts, Brad Butterworth, and the other Alinghi "defectors" to name a few. Their sins are not likely to be forgiven. Dickson will never be forgotten for throwing a punch at tactician Butterworth during that critical LVC match against Dennis Connor in 1987 that caused NZ to hit the buoy and lose the race, resulting in a huge loss of morale; even Dennis Connor has said that NZ could have won the Cup that year had they triumphed in the LVC; losing that race was key and Dickson was the problem. He will never race for NZ again. And Coutts, Butterworth et al will never be forgiven for accepting millions of dollars over national pride in 2000, stripping Team NZ of their "brain trust".

There are countries that would lack the talent to assemble a nationally based team but this current AC has certainly generated interest where previously there was little. I mean, a few years ago, who would have envisaged South Africa and China in the Cup? (To say nothing of SWITZERLAND - who are essentially a Kiwi team anyway!) And sooner or later we WILL see Luna Rossa win the Cup, especially if they can hang on to Spithill. Where is Australia, letting that young star go; he's a pistol! Peter Gilmore, where ARE you?

With the retirement of Dennis Connor (now an "honorary Kiwi after being "Dirty Den" in NZ for so many years - who can forget the fullpage ads in the NZ Herald with pictures of Dennis with red sox stuffed in his mouth!) there has not been anyone with a fire in the belly for the Cup in quite the same fashion. His permission to use his image in this fashion won him many fans in NZ and when he is in Auckland he gets mobbed!Somehow Ellison just does not have the same charisma. It seemed like Paul Cayard was the heir apparent, but apparently not. Find another Dennis and you might find another following for the Cup in the States. He was an enigma.

It would help if the Sports Press kept it in the TV Sports news - but I live in the Pacific NW, home of Oracle, and yet have not seen ONE REPORT on local TV about this America's Cup Series and have to rely on the internet to watch it graphically. If you took NBA or Baseball off TV the same indifference might happen to those sports....well perhaps not, but you get my drift.

It does come back to the big bucks it takes to participate in this sport but that will not change and clearly big sponsors are out there waiting to be wooed. It has always been and always will be a rich mans sport. But if NZ can put a challenge together, anyone should be able to. The Cup has pretty much saved the NZ economy bringing $3B into the small country's coffers in tourism, yacht building and related industries at a time when they were recovering from virtual bankruptcy. Is it any wonder they are so passionate about it?


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