Team NZ broke and desperate - Butterworth
Article By GREG FORD - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 06 April 2008
Brad Butterworth believes Team New Zealand is on the cusp of going broke and has no chance of sailing in another America's Cup if managing director Grant Dalton stays at the helm.
In an explosive interview with the Sunday Star-Times the Alinghi skipper and former America's Cup winning Team NZ sailor:
- Slams Dalton's decision to sue the Swiss syndicate, saying it was an act of betrayal that will ultimately lead to his demise.
- Reveals that he barely speaks to his friend and former sailing partner Russell Coutts because of the legal battle between Alinghi and Coutts' BMW Oracle syndicate over the next America's Cup.
- Says Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli essentially ensured Team NZ was at last year's America's Cup in Valencia by arranging sponsorship and providing finance to the Kiwis.
Dalton denies the claims.
But Butterworth has documents and details that appear to reveal that Alinghi owner Ernesto Bertarelli not only saved Team New Zealand with a loan in 2003 but set up a sponsorship deal with Spanish brewer Estrella Damm so the team could compete in Valencia. He also financed the air freight of a Team NZ boat when it was cash-strapped and shared last year's regatta spoils, writing a multi-million-dollar cheque to Team NZ from its profits.
"Grant definitely got special treatment," says Butterworth. "We're now wondering why he has taken this extraordinary action, but we now believe he's jumped into bed with Oracle, that he's so desperate for cash that he's now become their lapdog."
Sensational claims are nothing new in the America's Cup, but Dalton had previously distanced himself from all the petty squabbling and fighting. But his decision to sue Alinghi for millions claiming they broke a promise to hold the next cup in 2009 has changed all that.
Last week, Butterworth produced Team New Zealand's Notice of Entry signed by Dalton on July 25, 2007. In it Dalton absolves Alinghi of any liability should a third party delay the cup. It specifically refers to the risk of pending legal action from Oracle that has led to Team NZ's exclusion from the next regatta, a multihull one-on-one challenge between Oracle and Alinghi.
"I don't know the finer points of his financial position but my guess is he's [Team NZ] broke," said Butterworth.
"Why other than the fact he's desperate and out of his depth would he take this action? It's a joke."
In a written statement to the Sunday Star-Times, Dalton denied his team was in financial trouble and was bullish about its legal position. "Alinghi's view on the law has been shown consistently to be wrong in successive judgments ..." he said.
"Instead of reading law books, Brad Butterworth should concentrate on learning how to sail a multihull."
Dalton denied Bertarelli had a hand in the Estrella Damm deal but confirmed he paid the freight for a Team NZ yacht but the money was repaid.
Butterworth's relationship with Dalton has been strained for years and the current legal wrangling for control of the cup is also putting stress on his friendship with Coutts.
In modern times the pair forged the most formidable partnership in world sailing winning the America's Cup for Team New Zealand in 1995, defending it in 2000, and then joining Alinghi to win it in 2003.
Coutts is now chief executive and skipper of Oracle, making the men rivals.
Butterworth acknowledged the situation was tense. "I will always be his mate. I am never going to change that. We are on opposite sides of the fence this time but I still have heaps of respect for him.
"Basically I keep away from him," Butterworth added. "We don't talk a hell of a lot and basically when this thing is over in the future we might."