PJ Montgomery interviews Russell Coutts
Russell Coutts, BMW Oracle CEO and skipper, was interviewed by PJ Montgomery on Sunday morning on Radio Sport and, mainly, offered his view on the America's Cup current situation.
It doesn't come as a surprise to hear Coutts putting the blame on Alinghi for the lack of any settlement on the America's Cup dispute so far. According to the legendary kiwi sailor, he still hasn't received any good answer on why his team's proposals wouldn't work or a good reason why they were considered as unacceptable by Alinghi. In fact, they have sent many proposals but still haven't received any response in written by Alinghi.
Not only that, they haven't even had the chance to really sit down and talk the issues. The only time he was involved in any talk was through a teleconference. Even worse, when, according to Team Origin principal Sir Keith Mills, the two parts were a whisker away from a deal, Lucien Masmejan, Alinghi's counsel, cut off negotiations. According to Coutts, there were a couple of very simple points that could be very easily resolved but Masmejan was categorical in stating that "Alinghi wasn't going to resolve this". If one is to believe Coutts, Alinghi never had the intention to settle with his team.
Still, if one checks Alinghi's backgrounder on the same subject, to be found here there is a different version on why Masmejan canceled negotiations: November 12: During settlement discussions, BMW Oracle unexpectedly announces five new demands that directly affect fundamental arrangements that were recently agreed by all entered competitors in the 33rd America's Cup. The message came through Melinda Erkelens, attorney for BMW Oracle, who, after discussions with Russell Coutts, called Lucien Masmejan to say: “(…) he now has five additional points which were not on the list.”
Alinghi loses confidence in BMW Oracle having any intention of negotiating a settlement in good faith. (See interview with Lucien Masmejan here)
When asked why his team wouldn't consider as legitimate the agreements the rest of challengers reached with Alinghi, Coutts replied that although some changes were made by Alinghi, the fundamental and important aspects of the rules hadn't changed and compromising on these issues would mean "changing the sport in a bad way". Contestants wouldn't simply have a real competition. According to Coutts, "some teams if not quite a few", in their eagerness to move ahead, were willing to accept anything in order to get the situation settled.
As far as the monster trimarans are concerned, one of the words Coutts used frequently to describe was "incredible". They are incredible sailing machines and according to him, we will probably not see them again in the future. The technology behind them is incredible as well but it's open to debate whether this is the right format for the America's Cup, always according to Coutts.
Coutts laughed at the question whether they did 32 knots in 8 knots of wind. They have done more than 30 knots many times because it doesn't take much wind to go over that. Still, no matter how fast his yacht sails, he will not be onboard.