Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Russell Coutts press conference - Valencia - 13 January 2009

Related Audio FileRussell Coutts press conference - Valencia, 13 Jan 2010
So close yet so far. That's how one could sum up the last-ditch talks that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday between Alinghi and BMW Oracle in Singapore, according to the challenger's CEO, Russell Coutts. The kiwi sailor expressed his surprise during the press conference in the team's base in Valencia about the divergence between Alinghi's representatives in the talks and "Geneva", although he never explicitly stated whether he was referring to Ernesto Bertarelli.

Singapore negotiations

Russell Coutts in his opening statement expressed his disappointment that the discussions in Singapore didn't produce a mutual-consent settlement. It appears the talks were productive because according to him there were 3 different agreement drafts and at the end of both days there was an agreement "from all of the parties inside that meeting". All drafts were "acceptable" for Coutts, but on both days, "at the 11th hour", as he states, were rejected "by Geneva".

In particular, on the 2nd day, the agreement was "pretty much completely" drafted by Alinghi's representatives (Brad Butterworth and Hamish Ross) and accepted and signed by BMW Oracle's delegates (Tom Ehman and Richard Slater). Yet, in an "extremely unusual" way, the very same persons that wrote the draft, rejected it again "at the 11th hour", when they were about to board the airplane on their way back!!! According to Coutts, it was again orders from Geneva that led to the rejection of the final draft. He reiterated this point various times throughout the press conference. Although everybody in the room had agreed on a text drafted by Alinghi and the BMW Oracle representatives had signed it, a direct order from Geneva stopped Alinghi's negotiators from signing.

Coutts didn't want to go into details on what the draft agreements contained. He said there were 6-7 key points but preferred not to talk about the individual points. One of those points could be the rumored proposal by BMW Oracle to start the races at a later date. Although he said that both teams would further improve, if given more time prepare, but he was categorical they would be ready on February 8th, despite Alinghi's claim to the contrary. He thinks it's "arrogant" from their side to pronounce BMW Oracle wasn't ready and in fact not only will his team be ready, they are ready. All journalists will be able to follow BOR 90 sailing next week.

The remaining points that were left unresolved, concerning the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions, will have to be dealt with by the International Jury.

A point raised by a number of local journalists was the statement by Valencia mayor, Rita Barberá, a couple of hours before the press conference, that her talks with Ernesto Bertarelli, who is visiting Valencia on a daily basis lately, broke down. Bertarelli wouldn't cede any rights to the city of Valencia, preferring to have a sort of "private" regatta. To the eyes of the press it seemed a futility to hold talks in Singapore, trying to reach an agreement with BMW Oracle, while the team owner was concurrently holding seemingly contradicting talks in Valencia.

So, the obvious question to Coutts by the local press was what he meant by "Geneva". Was it Bertarelli? For Coutts, Bertarelli is not the only person in Geneva, there is also Lucien Masmejan (the team's legal counselor) and a "whole range of people" there. In fact, as Coutts pointed out, when he was Alinghi's skipper in 2003, Bertarelli actually "made very few decisions" and as a result he wouldn't jump into any assumptions as to who has the final word. There is a number of issues raised by Coutts' remarks. Where does the buck stop at Alinghi? Is there an internal power struggle or even why do they send negotiators that don't have the power to sign the agreements reached on the negotiating table?

Russell Coutts, BMW Oracle CEO, talks to the press. Valencia, 13 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Legal action regarding Alinghi's sails

As for the latest legal action taken by his team, Coutts stated they "asked the court to rule on the Constructed-in-Country issue" and in particular on the sails BMW Oracle "is led to believe that will be used on Alinghi". His objective is to try to have a clear ruling before the race in order to avoid any post-match litigation.

My question was why they didn't first ask the International Jury to rule on that issue and his reply was straight forward. According to Coutts, the NY Supreme Court is the jurisdiction to rule on the Constructed-in-Country issue, something that has been made clear in its previous rulings. For all Deed-of-Gift related disputes it is the only jurisdiction. All sailing issues, such as where the two yachts should be moored, that do not directly depend on the Deed of Gift, should be resolved by the Jury.

The Court could eventually direct the Jury to offer an expert opinion or advice, as it has been done before, and this is something Coutts and BMW Oracle would be happy with. Their only preoccupation, according to Coutts, is to set aside the legal issues before the race. That is very probable, given the schedule set by the court. Alinghi will have to file their reply brief on January 20th and BMW Oracle their counter reply 6 days later, on the 26th. The Judge could then rule on the issue or order a hearing.

At that moment I mentioned the press release by Alinghi, issued an hour before the press conference, stating that "the sails for the Match have been constructed in a sail loft in Villeneuve, Switzerland." According to Coutts, 3DL sails are constructed in only two places in the world. One is Nevada and the other one is Sri Lanka and clearly neither of these places is in Switzerland. Of course the definition of the word "construct" Alinghi has might be different and it could simply mean where they put the sailnumbers on, stated Coutts.

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At 11:33 PM, Blogger chocoa said...

great job again and again with your balanced reporting Pierre/Valencia sailing-thank you!!!!

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Estimado Russell:
Quieres decir que BMWOracle esta dando por supuesto la utilizacion el dia 8 de Febrero de unas velas supuestamente fabricadas en USA por el Alinghi. Muy bien. ¿Y si NO es asi?.
Navega primero y si ves algo incorrecto reclama, pero ahora estas reclamando sobre un supuesto que se puede dar o no. Insolito y esclarecedor como tactica de retrasar en el tiempo la competicion ,ya que para estas fechas no teneis nada claro el resultado de vuestro multicasco y de ahi el miedo a RAK y la fecha. Ya fue metedura de pata por vuestra parte en autodenominaros COR y no haber planteado un Desafio entre los 18 equipos. Ahi todo el mundo de la vela habria estado de vuestra parte. De esta manera no.

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has a smile ever broken out at Oracle?

At 12:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great reporting -- thank you

At 5:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russel, could you be consistent, for once.
On the official BOR website (, our statement is as follow:
“On three separate occasions ... GGYC was ready to sign. SNG’s negotiators were prepared to sign, but it seems they were not given permission.”
How come can you switch now stating on the interview:
on the 2nd day, the agreement was... and accepted and signed by BMW Oracle's delegates.
What a joke you are.

Further down, you go telling " an "extremely unusual" way, the very same persons that wrote the draft, rejected it... when they were about to board the airplane on their way back!!!

Russel, you are a disgrace.
Get your 50M, but please shut up.

At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Russel Coutts wasn't at the meeting. So essentially we have the slug liar, who's free of morals, telling the vindictive liar what to say. Hardly a recipe for an accurate account of the facts.

I'm more inclined to believe what Brad Butterworth has to say and more so David Tillet.

The excuse about taking the sails issue to court is a thin one, why did they bother to suggest taking it to the independent jury in the first place?

I hope Oracle disband after this event, Larry Ellison does nothing but damage to sailing.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its clear that "Geneva" stopped negotiations because of the new legal action of BOR. How could one reach mutuality, when on the other hand they what a court meeting with justice Kornreich again?

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shirley, Larry again. How much is that new house you were looking at?

Remember we don´t want the independent jury this time, okay.

Justice Chan´s playing golf in florida, drinking cocktails and looking at tits, you could be to if you get my drift.

Glad we´re on the same page, don´t forget to send your bank details.



At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As owner of a software company I will never ever even think of using Oracle products and I will never ever buy a car from a company that supports people like Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts.
Go Alinghi go and beat them fair and square!

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have Oracle-BMW engaged some Chinese Goverment types to try and cleanse the airwaves of their obvious distain for actually sailing ? No wonder they have never won any AC or LV races, with all their unending litigation mind game distractions.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Alinghi fans are too funny with your whining. Many of us fail to understand how you can support a cheater who has been not only busted in court at 3 levels but also busted by a expert sailing panel. Maybe one of you can explain how you can support & justify SNG actions regarding the Deed & the rules of sailing?

At 1:32 PM, Blogger Yelkenci said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

You Alinghi fans are too funny with your whining. Many of us fail to understand how you can support a cheater who has been not only busted in court at 3 levels but also busted by a expert sailing panel. Maybe one of you can explain how you can support & justify SNG actions regarding the Deed & the rules of sailing?"


At 5:07 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

@12:13 PM

You actually think those are Alinghi fans making those comments? More like Alinghi employee's. I wonder which one is the famous Cartoonist?

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The upper comments are ridiculous... but not much more than yours.
Alinghi is cheating? Waouwwww! In fact, they just went to the NYSC and loose there for various reason. That's not cheating at all: that's what we call justice.
By the way: Alinghi won 2 AC without any problems and certainly without help of the justice or by cheating.

At 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have to choose which of the 2 arses you want to support. I think Alinghi is the lesser of 2 evils. Larry can't compete if he's not in power.

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it is logic to stop negotiations when a law suit is filled up the same time on the other side of the globe. And even more difficult to understand that one can negotiate seriously the same time he takes legal actions against the other.
And very happy that GGYC is ready to race. Hopefully we will see soon the 90 feet keel yacht on the starting line. This boat must be really top secret – or has any one out there seen a picture of the keel yacht proposed in the challenger's document ?

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they are Alinghi employees at least their opinions carry some weight, yours are just uninformed wasted key presses.

At 11:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WetHog has a very valid opinion.

And he sure looks sexy in the hat and T-shirt that BOR gave him for sucking Larry's...

At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny this question is asked in many places but none can respond with no facts or logical discussion.

"Maybe one of you can explain how you can support & justify SNG actions regarding the Deed & the rules of sailing?"

At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be more specific and i'm sure someone will gladly answer your question

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Stu said...

I find it kind of curious that almost all of these comments - and all of the whining are posted anonymously? Are you men who wont stand by your own comments?


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