Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Response to Tom Ehman in Valencia Sailing - letter from Brad Butterworth

“Tom Ehman’s interview in Valencia Sailing deserves an appropriate response:

In almost 140 years of America’s Cup competition, innovation is often accompanied by whines of “illegality” or “unfair” from the other camp. Alinghi however, cannot take any innovation credit in using powered systems, and Tom Ehman’s predictable whines are again wide of the mark. Onboard powered systems have been with the top end of the sport for more than a dozen years. Just take a closer look at the yachts competing in blue ribbon events such as the Sydney-Hobart, Newport to Bermuda, Volvo Ocean Race, Transpac as well as some World Championships such as the Maxi Worlds. Are they all cheats too, Tom?

If the new self-appointed purists of the sport are upset at the use of onboard powered systems, they need to take it up with the innovators of the game, but they have not only missed the boat, they have been missing it for years.

Can anyone fairly criticise Alinghi for using the best technology in what is an open design competition? Anyone reading the Mercury Bay judgements can read in simple black and white terms that there are no design rules except the broad dimensions specified in the Deed, and within these the challenger is free to commit to the dimensions of their yacht when making its challenge and the defender is free to respond. You can be sure the BMW Oracle designers are not thrilled to hear someone on their side might have put them wrong on the rules.

Now Tom Ehman is trying to sell us Mercury Bay and the 27th Match in 1988 as some kind of Californian “love-in”. That will come as a big surprise to those who lead and bankrolled the Mercury Bay Challenge and the three years of litigation it involved. Eight court hearings up and down the New York court system was just a bit of fun? No, mutual consent was as short on the ground then as it is now. The litigation might have been fun for Tom back in 1988 just as it seems to be to him now, but no one else is smiling Tom. The business of the Cup is in ruins but the Deed must prevail. Make no mistake; the Mercury Bay Boating Club contested the rules of the 27th Match produced by Tom Ehman right up to the very end. The measure of a man is how he takes his own medicine.

Next Tom Ehman wants to litigate the venue selection. He has flipped-flopped on this as well. He publicly announced last year after the Court’s order was made, that the Defender could choose a venue anywhere it wished, in either hemisphere. Only two months ago in May they issued press statements critical of Alinghi for what they said was defying the Court’s order in respect of the dates of the Match, which conflicted with the terms of the Deed of Gift. Now Ehman wants Alinghi to ignore the same Court order (and the Court’s subsequent directions), and follow the Deed in selecting the venue. How does he lie in bed straight?

Ehman is signaling he wants to start yet another round of litigation, this time over construction in country. Ehman’s no holds barred Cup philosophy hasn’t changed much since 1991 when he ran the Cup Organisation into near bankruptcy needing a massive bailout when he said:

“The challengers will do everything they can do to try to weaken us financially and operationally," said ACOC General Manager Tom Ehman. ”It is part of the battle, unfortunately, that carries over from the water onto the land. It's a little bit unfair."

Regrettably, the years don’t seem to have brought any maturity and wisdom.

Alinghi 5 has been constructed in Switzerland as required by the Deed and is now sailing in Switzerland. Despite Ehman’s rhetoric painting their challenge as an American product, it is hardly the “All American” challenge he would have us believe. Tom is careful not mention the overwhelming presence of Kiwis, Australians, Canadians, Irish, Brits, Dutch, French, Italians” - and that’s just the sailors, and it is not much different in other parts of the team including those who constructed their boat.

It is all but forgotten that it was another Californian yacht club that had the dubious distinction of being the very first to commence litigation over the Cup competition when the San Diego Yacht Club sought an injunction against the Royal Perth Yacht Club in 1985 (NYSC Index Number 22320/85) before the 26th America’s Cup in Fremantle over the rules of the regatta. That may have been 24 years ago, but some things just don’t change.

Ehman has signaled BMW Oracle will be desperately continuing to throw the dice in court for a while longer, and blaming the other side for their actions. The rest of the sport is thoroughly bored with their legal antics and increasingly ludicrous PR spin, and just wants us to get on with a race on the water.

Is anyone willing to bet they will not litigate again if they lose in February? I mean losing is just so unfair, eh Tom.”

Brad Butterworth, Alinghi team skipper.

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At 6:41 PM, Anonymous WetHog said...

Holy Shit! I am a BMWO supporter but even I must admit I am impressed at the no holds barred tone taken with this letter. It made me laugh on more than one instance. If there was any hope of mediation in this it is done/dead for sure now. WoW! I'm still laughing.

I will say though, does anyone really think ButterNutz, I mean Butterworth, actually wrote this? Good stuff regardless.

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

time somebody put this whole saga on a different perspective.

and butterball just NAILS it.

tom is just another leader of the opposition, he just argues the other point to just depends which side he is on.

always has....always will. you got give him that.

it was time somebody stepped up to the plate and defended the other side.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

Isn't this about the Racing Rules of Sailing, and not about what technology is available?

BMW Oracle believes that when the Deed of Gift states the event must use the "rules and regulations" of the defender's club, that these are to be what was used for their Annual Regatta at the time of the challenge. I would be curious as to how Brad interprets this DOG passage.

At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting in that BB read Ghost Writer (GW)citing so many handicap races that allow PSS.
Is GW now proposing that the AC be sailed under handicap rules like all the races he mentioned that use PSS? I don't think so so talk about peaching to the uneducated.

As to the sailing world calling out PSS. Will those boats sail under handicaps so they are penalized. In some cases like Alfa Romeo in this years Transpac they had to carry a penalty/extra handicap for being PSS.

How one compares the AC to handicap racing can only be considered twisted. If GW looked around the Internet for polls on the AC allowing PSS they would see they are anywere from 75 - 90% against allowing PSS in the AC. Allowing PSS in the AC which is completely different sailing event than handicap is a mockery & disgrace to the sport.

With TE & the courts, will if they win in the courts they were right & SNG continues to loss in court as they can't read the Deed & they from the beginnig of CNEV don't want to have Mutual Consent under fair rules.

If SNG/Alinghi want to get on with the racing, they need to read & follow the Deed. They should have learnt their lesson from CNEV but have not. Until they do we can only go on the NYSC finding them as cheaters. Until SNG/Alinghi stop trying to cheat there is no seen racing on the water.

Good question for SNG will be what will they do if the Judge declares SNG's rule change invalid & they must use the 2007 rules. SNG like before will go back to the NYSC to appeal. The race will be postponed once again & this after SNG has wasted 2 years already.

Btw good to see Alinghi/SNG has a decent Ghost Writer now. Maybe they will learn to speak with one tongue versus two.

At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW............. Take that Tom!

At 7:32 PM, Blogger Norberto said...

"Onboard powered systems have been with the top end of the sport for more than a dozen years. Just take a closer look at the yachts competing in blue ribbon events such as the Sydney-Hobart, Newport to Bermuda, Volvo Ocean Race, Transpac as well as some World Championships such as the Maxi Worlds. Are they all cheats too, Tom?"

brad's "logic" has a flaw, since in all the competitions he mentioned, people knew the rules (and the allowance of stored energy usage) beforehand. when they commited to these races the rules were already set and they've built their boats according to them, which has not been the present case with the 33rd ac.

apples and oranges, imho.

At 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great letter! Suck it to that dumb ass TE .......

At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the best statment on VS for years! Yes we all expect that Tom, Larry, Russel and will dry their tears after loosing in February with the toilet paper at the NY court and will apply for a apartment in the court building to reduce travel costs.

At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is too bad that Brad's response is to whine about Tom Ehman. Now we know Brad does not like Tom. Big deal. It would have been great if Brad could have responded to the substance of the issues, rather than just attck Tom for what Brad thinks he did in 1988. I assume Brad decided not to address the substance because his arguments and position are weak.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And this letter comes from the Skipper of the team that refused to race in one race of the LV Pacific Series. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.....geeish!!!

Btw is this letter too embarrassing to be posted at the Alinghi site or is this about self censorship for the fans shake.

At 8:47 PM, Anonymous Shameonyoutom said...

Well said Brad. Thx

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone willing to bet SNG will not litigate again if they lose in February? I mean losing is just so unfair, eh Brad.”

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quality comeback... Oracle are on the ropes and stairing down the barrel of defeat on and off the water, yet again!
Does anyone know whether that trophy Sir thomas Lipton years ago for being the best loser a perpetual trophy? I think we may have a new place for it on Tom's mantle piece!

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it Brad! The politically correct rubbish coming from Oracle is getting tired, it must feel good to let off steam for a change.

Rumor is that Oracle have 90 staff currently building a new boat, possibly a cat (gee, you think?) as their tri is a nightmare, tacking it is impossible, that can't get a handle on it at all. This news came from one of their suppliers.

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Tom Jeffson said...

Brad writes, "Ehman ... publicly announced last year after the Court’s order was made, that the Defender could choose a venue anywhere it wished, in either hemisphere."

Where was that announcement made?

At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad do a interview with Pierre at VS like Tom did. OR do you want to hide behind some kid writing your letters for you?

Come on Brad, be a Kiwi & HTFU or have you forgotten???

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Bbuilder said...

Norberto hits the nail on the head. BB's comments are fataly flawed as all the maxis, VOr boats etc know the rules about powered systems before they start building.

If Bertarelli was any kind of sportsman he would have taken note when his design team told him they were going down the 'engine' route and made sure that the competitors knew about the rules that would be in place.

I see it as only fair and reasonable that everyone knows the general rules before the competition (ie deisgn work) begins. Whether the engines is in or out is of little consequence - as long as both teams have the time and opportunity to take advantage.

I suspect this could be the opening to get a delay for BMWO to build a new 'engine' assisted boatand reset the clock to 10 months from the new court hearing - stramger things ahve happened!

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try GW. We all know BB did not write that...

Good stuff though, +1 for effort.

At 3:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now GGYC sent a [url=]letter[/url] to SNG about the venue in Valencia or in the Southern Hemisphere ...
More fun to come!

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More fun to come!
GGYC sent a letter to SNG about the venue in Valencia ...

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the letter was just about being frustrated with a person (Tom Ehman) who manages to argue both sides of the arguments for the last several decades.

Tom has been a defender and argued for defender's rights and now he argues against he contradicts himself constantly.

but that is his job and you must give him credit for it...he does it well.

however somebody needed to call his bluff...cause he can get carrried away most of the time. particularly when he reaches into the "morality" of the issue.

and tom should not do this...cuz he that lives on a glass house should NEVER throw stones. and if he does, then he should be ready to receive some whacks and take them like a man.

BB point was that TG's argument is such because is is the opposite of Alinghi's. He has been doing this for years and it is probably why the protocol was so one-sided. they were tired of dealing with Tom....arrogant but true.

i know, you will call bullshit, but think about. i know of many ideas conceptualized by Tom that were later introduced by ACM at the last Cup but just becasue he was leader of the challengers he had to take the opposite perspective and argue against them...sometimes to the point of arrrgggghhhh.

geez, they were his ideas to begin with...ideas to improve the cup, to save money amongst teams, ideas that he would probably introduce if BMWO wins.

go figure....that's the part that frustrates BB...two face Tom Ehman.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Wayne said...

Why does it surprise anyone that LE, EB, TE and BB, each advocates for their own side.

It's a competition, to do anything else would be strange.

What is happening, is that EB and BB want to make the AC into something it has never been. Why not just start another series, the UWSC (Unlimited World Sailing Championship).

The AC is and has always been, a bastion of tradition, why change it. There is room for a traditional series and a more unlimited one in which to experiment with the latest technology and innovation.

Let the AC continue with the long traditions it always has, and create a new series, rather than try to change one that has been around for such a long and time.

There's room for both.

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous WetHog said...

Two faced Tom Ehman? Sure, but EB himself said when this all started right before the first court decision was handed down "We will not appeal". Well when he saw he lost what did he do, appeal.

The two faced comment directed towards Ehman may fit, but Alinghi has their own members who like to talk out of both sides of their mouth, including the guy at the top.

At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The keel fin for BMW Oracle Racing, one of the most important components of the high-tech yacht, was built by BMW at its German plant.

At 3:52 AM, Blogger roofrack said...

Brad says "Onboard powered systems have been with the top end of the sport for more than a dozen years. Just take a closer look at the yachts competing in blue ribbon events such as the Sydney-Hobart, Newport to Bermuda, Volvo Ocean Race, Transpac as well as some World Championships such as the Maxi Worlds. Are they all cheats too, Tom?"

Sorry Brad but since when were these races covered by the America Cup dead of gift.

Also remember Brad this whole sorry affair came about due to Alingi attempting to set up an illegal Patsy challenger of record. Thank god Larry Alison had the energy and cheque book to stop it. If the Alingi team wish to retain the AC anyway they can, give it to them for life and let them look at the cup in shame. With Louis Vutton's help we can start a new event from scratch. Alingi please don't participate.

At 12:24 AM, Anonymous clinnin said...

This from the man that united all of New Zealand - they all hate Braddo. Once a wanker always a wanker.

At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:29 PM - finally someone with a clear grasp of a solution. Well done & stated.

At 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time that BMWO finally gets back to racing - if they still can. Looks like they are more on the littigation trip. For sure - there they have a homeland that helps them. Certainly the only way they have a chance for winning. Good luck BMWO - continue to do the only thing you can - go to the courts. Don't go on the water.

At 5:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:29 PM - Well stated & a concept that GGYC supports but SNG doesn't want to create the so called Alinghi Cup. This is why there will be a long, long battle about Enrievision trying to take over the AC.

There is too much history in the AC for some in the sailing community to let it change into some F1 vision under Enrie or anyone else. Also, for EB, his past track record with CNEV & now has turned a lot of people off.


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