Monday, January 18, 2010

Russell Coutts talks to Valencia Sailing

The 33rd America's Cup match is right around the corner and Valencia Sailing had the opportunity to briefly catch up with Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW Oracle. Here is what the legendary kiwi sailor told us.

Valencia Sailing: We have a mere 3 weeks left until the starting gun is fired for the 1st race of the 33rd AC. Do you feel confident?
Russell Coutts: We are ready to race on February 8th. We remain committed to trying to get any rules questions resolved prior to the start of racing so that the winner on the water is the undisputed winner of the America’s Cup.

Valencia Sailing: You launched BOR 90 on Saturday but you stepped a conventional mast and not the hard wing. What is the reason?
Russell Coutts: We are using the conventional rig for our structural load testing prior to the commencement of sailing.

Valencia Sailing: When do you expect to sail her for the first time in Valencia?
Russell Coutts: We plan to sail Tuesday.

Valencia Sailing: Have you made a decision on the crew that will race the Cup?
Russell Coutts: James Spithill is the Skipper and helmsman. Come race day, he will put the best crew on board for the job.

Valencia Sailing: As far as tactics are concerned do you think James Spithill’s exceptional match racing skills will make a difference in prestart or is it going to be a long drag race?
Russell Coutts: Jimmy has done an amazing job with this boat. Unlike traditional Cup programs, we haven’t had two-boat testing so it will be really interesting once we line-up against the competition. I have no doubt Jimmy’s match racing skills will come into play. There is incredible anticipation for that first race. That's part of the excitement. Neither team knows what's going to happen. But I think this race will be more about boatspeed than match racing skill. The fastest boat will almost certainly win.

Valencia Sailing: What do you make of Alinghi 5, now that you have seen her sailing 2 days in Valencia? In the following days, when you also train with BOR90 will you try to get close to her and potentially try to assess any differences in performance?
Russell Coutts: Alinghi has some great people on both the design and sailing teams. From what we know, it seems they are well suited to light air conditions. We will assess what we can but our focus is on getting our own boat and team race-ready and to put our best package on the start line on the 8th of February.

Valencia Sailing: Tom Ehman, in the press conference in Zurich, stated that one of your team’s proposals was to postpone the regatta for a month or so and hold it in March. Why?
Russell Coutts: Alinghi has taken a big risk in building its sails in the USA and GGYC has flagged up the issue of CIC for over a year. Constructed in country (CIC) is the DNA of the America’s Cup. It is fundamental to the Deed of Gift – ‘competition between foreign countries’. We have no wish to DSQ Alinghi. If they need more time to build legal sails, we would offer it. It would also make for a better AC33, moving it from a direct clash with the Winter Olympics.

Valencia Sailing: Do you have any explanation to why Alinghi left the negotiation table in Singapore, despite the fact your team had signed an agreement drafted by them?
Russell Coutts: Their representatives telephoned back to Alinghi. They were not given permission to sign the Singapore Agreement.

Valencia Sailing: Ernesto Bertarelli said on Friday that “if Russell Coutts wants to win the America’s Cup in the NY Courts all he has to do is call me and I’ll send it to him”. Have you called him?
Russell Coutts: This is pure nonsense. It is ridiculous. We want to win on the water and win under fair rules. We’ve got to sort these rules our before we get going February 8th. We’re not going to allow them to break the rules. Ernesto is allergic to fair rules despite the New York Court telling 13 times out of 14, ‘No. Stop. You are wrong.” The latest and arguably Ernesto Bertarelli’s most blatant attempt to circumvent the rules is his view on sails. He claimed that “Should the American justice system outlaw their use (of sails), it would be like asking Roger Federer to defend his title without using his tennis racket.” However, Federer doesn't play Wimbledon with an illegal racket. Why should Ernesto be allowed to compete in the America’s Cup with illegal sails?

Valencia Sailing: I always wanted to ask you this question but I don’t know whether you’ll answer. Is there any truth to the rumor Larry Ellison pays you 10 million dollars a year and offered you a 50-million dollar bonus if you win the 33rd AC?
Russell Coutts: No. There is no truth to those rumours. We prefer not to discuss personal salaries but I can confirm your estimates are completely wrong. What I can definitely confirm is that the overall budget at BMW ORACLE Racing is not dissimilar to other top teams’ budgets for the 2007 Cup.

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At 9:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He prefers not to discuss personal salaries...but it is true!

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how so many people deny this fact

"Ernesto is allergic to fair rules despite the New York Court telling 13 times out of 14"

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Illegal sails' - this is BORs favoured song at the moment. As a Swiss guy I can't figure out whats so criminal on the sails Alighi uses: Their sails are rooted in Swiss technology and they have been constructed in Villeneuve, Switzerland. This Swiss technology has been used by both defenders and challengers in the America’s Cup since 1995 and they have been through years of development in Switzerland to construct them.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coutts can force Alinghi to have CIC compliant sails. That's an effective rule but that has nothing to do with fairness: a tennis player can use the racket of his choice, wherever she comes from.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Ramon said...

"Alinghi has taken a big risk in building its sails in the USA" - this is a lie. ALINGHI Sails are made in Villeneuve, Switzerland, I mean, I've been there and I saw it. This is as I would state, that the BOR Trimaran is built in China, because they using chinese vibre.

At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as expected...not thruth from him! 50 milllion up your's russel! go alinghi and beat them!!!

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Umpire said...

1)What changes have they made that they need to do structural load testing, maybe they are scrapping the wing??

2)For all the the $s that RC is being paid, what is his role, chief stirrer maybe!!

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice try Pierre, but he just won't answer simple questions even simple 'yes' or 'no' ones

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

$50,000,000 is cheap. The best in the world are worth more

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey russel, why should you be allowed to use illegal carbon premanufactured in Japan...??? lets go back to court

At 1:27 PM, Blogger Six said...

It's easy. Mutual Consent rules of Default Match rules
Ernesto said he can't comply the Default Match rules.
Why not want the Mutual Consent rules?

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why listen to Larry's lapdog (Jack) Russell Coutts? This is not an interview, just emty BOR statements.

Deep down, the Jack Russell knows, it doesn't make sense, I'm convinced of that, but hey, who will pay his bill's?

Coutts is my perfect example of the saying;

From Hero to Zero!

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Mark said...

SNG you have painted your self’s into a corner. Let’s race this on the water and send the lawyers home. If GGYC wins, move to SF and win it back. San Francisco bay is as good as any place in the world to host this awesome regatta.
The trophy belongs to the world of sailing more than any individual. If you want to prove you’re a great sailor go win a gold medal. Now is the time to release your greedy grip on the AC.
Shut up and sail...

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous JamieF said...

Honestly, I wouldn't dicuss my salary publicly either. And btw. what is wrong with earning 50 million dollars a year? If L.E. is happy paying that amount to RC (which I seriously doubt) so be it. It is nobody else's bussiness.

At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you were well informed. Tom Ehman is chief stirrer, Russell is no longer #1 in this team, he just does as he's told including screwing his old mate Brad. Funny how money can change someone.

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ramon, to answer your questions, the A5 sails were custom molded at the North facility in Minden, Nevada, USA. The only thing you saw in Villeneuve is the custom made panels from the USA being stitched together to complete the sails.

If I were Swiss and had any pride in Swiss technology or Made in Switzerland, then I would not think that stitching together panels made in the USA constituted "constructed" in Switzerland. Perhaps "assembled" in Switzerland.

That's why the sails are illegal because Ernesto chose a straight up DoG default matched which means the vessel (including its sails) must be constructed in the country of the competing clubs.

Ernesto also chose to set aside the interpretive resolutions which, under previous mutual consent protocols, allowed non-USA teams to use 3DL sails made in the USA.

But for this match, there is no mutual consent.

Again, if Federer had to use a tennis racket constructed in Switzerland, would he be allowed to play with one made in the USA?


At 9:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line here is EB wants his rules & only his rules. Sadly that isn't how life works when there are suppose to be fair rules. EB is going to go down as the 1st AC martyr & no one is going to care as he did it himself.

At 3:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to know why nobody of the Alinghers writing here didn't say anything about that "...Do you have any explanation to why Alinghi left the negotiation table in Singapore, despite the fact your team had signed an agreement drafted by them?"
Joe the Cynic...

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If BMWO are so confident on beating Alinghi why worry about the sails.Is this just an excuse so they can have more time to work on their wing mast that has proven to be a lemon.'Give us another month and we will drop the court case,only because the olympics are on'Russel.
Does anyone really believe this?

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 6:51 PM anon

As if B.B. wouldn't be paid an enormous amount of money by E.B. for his services.
This discussion about salary and integrity is ridiculous

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Umpire said...

Yrh, sorry forgot about that weasel

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Ramon said...

anon 9:21
Hi, this is Ramon again.
We have a law here in Switzerland to protect the 'SWISS MADE' label, which says, that 80% of something (chocolat, army kife etc) muste contain components or construction in our country.
Deed says that the 'yacht or vessel' as a whole must be made in the country of the club. Not only 'sails' - they not even mentions that word... I think that A5 perfectly fits in that SWISS MADE label if we look at the Cat as a whole (vessel, mast, sails, winches).
Unfortunately, NY Court is in the U.S...

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Renaud said...

Good point from Anonymous 9:21 about the sails but one could have a different point of vue.

Your are certainely right with "assembled" but what is the meaning of "constructed" as mentionned in the DOG.

You can use a dictionary and find Alinghi is right or you wait until the NYC give an order.

As long as the NYC has not say it is not permissible, one can say it is.

As far as I know it is only in France that Juge prouve you are innocent, in anglo-world contries you are innocent until a Juge has say your're not.

The fact remain the same : win on the water.

Therefore for Alinghi to race on the 8th feb. without waiting for NYC order would be most valuable.

BOR win = no more problem.

But imagine Alinghi as a winner ..... and then NYC having to reverse what append on the water

... marrant non comme happy ending !

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DOG specifically separates the boat from the sails when it states that the hull and the sails are both to be CIC compliant.
To group both together to come up with a factor saying that sails made outside the country constitute less than 20% of the boat so the sails are legal is rediculous.

At 3:09 AM, Blogger d'alba said...

I am a pro Alinghi, and a very much against BOR for all the good and bad reasons.
This being said, I am not sure about the "made in Switzerland" concerning the sails.
Yes the sails are coming from a swiss technology, and yes they are assembled in Villeneuve, Switzerland. But if the molded panels are made in the USA, to call them "made in Switzerland" is not that obvious. There are rules and regulations for such labels, and I think it is not a bad thing that the question is raised.
This being said, a NY court is not necessarily free from national pressures and past rulings showed that clearly.

Now, should the NY court rule against Alinghi, again, what would happen if the ruling falls after Alinghi wins on the water? Would the AC33 be rematched, or would Alinghi lose the cup?
Secondly, as we all know, many components are prefabricated, be it in the USA for the sails, and in China for carbon fibres, etc... what ruling has to be applied?
The 2010 AC has noting to do with whatever could be conceived by the time the deed was written, and as such I think the US team should stop this non sense. Calling for fair rules when they were clearly acting in bad faith all along, to the point where the US court called them being anti-sportsmanlike tells it all.

Last but not least, any reference with Roger Federer racket is childish. Ernesto, you can do better than that.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dismissal of RC from Alinghi had opened up the road to where the AC is today. EB was always aware of RC's sailing and organizational capabilities, hence RC was shot out of AC 32 with support from LE of BMWO.

Alinghi's unsportsmanlike behaviour came to light during AC32when they lost 2 races to TNZ and their subsequent accusations of New Zealand supporters as well TNZ.

Alinghi, aware of the "Coutts factor" arranged a challange with a so called "yacht club", incorporated days before the challange, with zero membership and no facilities, not to mention that no sailing regatta had ever been organized by this entity.

We can continue the list of EB's attempts to rig the 33rd AC, but they are well documented.

Including the fact that EB chose to accept a number of challengers despite the fact that there was a pending appeal at NYC. RAK was also clearly in violation of the Deed.

With regard to A5's sails, if they were Swiss inventions, purchased by a US company, manufactured in the USA from Chinese raw materials and assembled in Switzerland - it makes them USA manufactured sails. Obviously, sails are part of a vessel that is propelled by sails, otherwise this vessel would not be a sailing vessel. Hence, if it's not a sailing vessel, it cannot compete in the AC.
I don't think there is any argument about it. Dennis Conner was DSQed for a rudder made outside of the USA.

It is also obvious that EB chose to have a DoG match over the multi-challanger format to avoid meeting RC on the water, in ACC boats. That is one of the reasons for Alinghi to announce the now abandoned AC90 class. As well, they of course had a head start in the design process over possible challengers.

Alinghi and SNG are clearly unfit to handle the responsibilities of the stewardship of the America's Cup.

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very simple: The deed is the rulebook of last resort. If Bertarelli wanted to use sails mostly constructed in the US, then he should have been a gentleman, sat down and worked out mutually beneficial rules for the regatta that ensured fairness and a great event.

In point of fact, this entire discussion should have been rendered moot within a week of the courts making BMWO the challenger of record. The Racing Rules of Sailing exist and the two sides should have sat down and discussed any exceptions/changes/adjustments and THEN built their boats instead of building their boats and then trying to fit the rules to their boats.

All in all this has turned into s stupid pissing match that makes the entire sport look bad. I m pulling for BMWO primarily because they seem to be the lesser of two evils but it's hard to tell who is the bigger problem in this situation.


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