XXXIe America's Cup



 Atmosphere tense at Team Alinghi (07/30/04)
 (source :
NZ Herald)
Alinghi tactician Brad Butterworth admits his relationship with syndicate head Ernesto Bertarelli is strained.

However, Butterworth insists he will be sticking with the America's Cup holders as the issue is with Coutts and Bertarelli and that is where it stops.

Following the sacking of Coutts, Butterworth says his relationship with Bertarelli needs patching up.

He says it is a problem he has to get his head around. He added: "It is going to take a while to work through it. The situation is still not over."

He expects the other New Zealand members at Alinghi will stay, and that includes Warrick Fleury, Simon Daubney and Murray Jones.
 Coutts retaliates in war of words (07/28/04)
 (source :
NZ Herald)
Russell Coutts will fight all the way to sail in the 2007 America's Cup, despite being sensationally sacked by the Alinghi syndicate yesterday.

"Russell Coutts specifically refused to helm Alinghi in Newport, United States, where he was requested to do so", Bertarelli's team claimed. "He also decided not to sail with the Team Alinghi crew at recent regattas, namely in Marstrand, Trieste and Lisbon, where the regattas are about to commence. This constitutes a clear violation of his employment contract."

If any contract had been breached, Coutts asserted it was his own.

"I have not wanted to comment in any detail up until now because Ernesto and I were in legal mediation," he said. "But now I am. I had clear commitments and understandings in my contract about my role and responsibilities and there has been a series of breaches."

Coutts claims the rift with Bertarelli began within weeks of Alinghi's rousing 5-0 victory in Auckland last year, that he has been in correspondence with Bertarelli since the start of the year and engaged in mediation for the past two months.

Asked about the rift at the recent UBS Trophy regatta in Newport, Bertarelli said: "It's not about money. I think, as people have found out, he is a difficult guy to motivate. I'm not the first one facing this issue."

If not money, is the squabble about Coutts being confined to running the sailing team and not being able to shape the 2007 Cup?

His vision was to reduce costs and open up the series to the public. The Swiss, in the shape of Bertarelli's associate Michel Bonnefous, who runs the newly formed America's Cup Management, have set rights control and revenue-raising as priorities.

"I think you've got to use people where they are best at," said Bertarelli. "And I couldn't see Michel Bonnefous helming the boat and Russell being in the office, drafting contracts. I thought the logical approach was to use Russell leading the team and yet contributing to overall construction and Michel drafting the contracts. Which basically is what they did with Alinghi in 2003. So it was a natural split."

Coutts suggests Bertarelli puts his own narrow interests ahead of what is good for the event. Rewriting the rules in Protocol clause 13.12 on July 14 expressly to block Coutts from joining another team, a move which adversely affects other teams and sailors, "is pretty indicative of Ernesto's style when he doesn't get his way", asserts Coutts.

A source close to the BMW Oracle team, with whom Protocol changes have to be agreed, said the amendments came after a phone call between Bertarelli and Larry Ellison, of Oracle.

Coutts is exploring ways to overturn the 180-day clause slipped into a rearranged cup protocol put in place just before the axing. He could have a variety of legal options to consider if he wants to be sailing at the next America's Cup.

Among the possible alternatives for Coutts' legal advisers to consider would be:
* Applying to New York state, whose law governs the cup, with a view to restraint of trade issues.
* Looking at European law and whether it had any jurisdiction in the cup.
* Whether the 180-day clause, combined with the termination of his contract, amounted to an unfair restraint of trade. A

linghi last night put another stumbling block in place for Coutts. Syndicate spokesman Christophe Lamps said that Coutts would also be bound by a non-competition clause, which would prevent a sailor whose contract had been terminated from joining another syndicate.

"I'm a pretty determined guy," Russell Coutts concluded. "I certainly want to do the America's Cup again."
 Russell Coutts sacked by Alinghi (07/27/04)
 (source :
NZ Herald)
New Zealand America's Cup hero Russell Coutts has been sacked by the Swiss Alinghi team for repeatedly "violating his duties".

"Team Alinghi is left with no choice but to terminate its contract with Russell Coutts," the team said in a statement today.

Coutts and Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli had been arguing for several weeks over Coutts' duties with the team but the team said today that repeated violations by Coutts of his duties had led to his sacking.

Coutts refused to helm Alinghi in Newport, America, and had also refused to sail with the Team Alinghi crew at recent regattas in Marstrand, Sweden, Trieste, Italy and in Lisbon, Portugal, where the regattas were about to commence.

"This constitutes a clear violation of his employment contract," the team said. "Furthermore, in various press statements made early July, he declared that he was no longer part of the Alinghi Team."

The team statement said it was also particularly damaging that Coutts was involved in the planning and development of a new race series which was incompatible with his responsibilities and duties.

"In his capacity as a member of the board of Alinghi Holdings, Russell Coutts manoeuvred himself into an inextricable conflict of interest. As a result, Alinghi had no recourse but to terminate its co-operation with Russell Coutts, effective immediately," Alinghi said.

Last month, Bertarelli said he would resist any move to allow Coutts to join another campaign. Coutts could have trouble joining another syndicate because of his background in design, although Bertarelli said that was "not necessarily" the case. He said he would resist any attempt by Coutts to join a rival syndicate.

"Right now I need to protect the team more than anything," he said. "I don't want to find myself in a Team New Zealand situation (when Bertarelli hired Coutts away from the cup holders in 2000). "Frankly, and fortunately, I think I drafted my contracts a little better than Team New Zealand."

Bertarelli could not explain Coutts' unhappiness, but did not believe it was to do with their relationship, money or Coutts' position in the decision-making hierarchy.
 On course for controversy (07/23/04)
 (source :
Russell Coutts, the most successful America's Cup skipper in history, now at loggerheads with the current Swiss holders, might be the only cup sailor in 153 years to have the rules altered expressly with him in mind.

When the Swiss won the cup under Coutts' leadership in Auckland 15 months ago, they issued a protocol which diluted the nationality rules and liberalized the movements of sailors.

In January, this was made more restrictive, tying a sailor from 2006 onwards to any team he had sailed with since the last cup. This is why Coutts has not steered Alinghi's SUI 64 since Auckland.

But last week, protocol clause 13.12 was screwed down even further, forbidding a sailor to swap teams if he had been "contracted, engaged, paid or otherwise engaged" by a team for 180 days since the last cup. This means that if Coutts does not sail for Alinghi in 2007, he cannot switch to a rival team.

"I don't support the change," Coutts said. "It's bad for the event and bad for sailing. To issue a rule that's backdated is just wrong."
 SUI 64 and USA 76 expected in Valencia (07/12/04)
 (sources : Masmar & Las Provincias)
After the UBS Trophy in Newport, SUI 64 and USA 76 were shipped together to Spain and are planned to arrive on July 14 in Valencia.

For some days, the two shore teams are working hard to prepare the RCN de Valencia base and all will be ready soon for intense training to commence once more.

USA-71, the first of two boats built for Oracle Racing's assault on the America's Cup 2003, is in Valencia since few days, shipped from Auckland with the first element of the Team NZ package. Alinghi 75 arrived in Spain (from France) on Saturday and was unloaded from a container ship.

As soon as the boats will be ready to sail, the two teams will focus on tests and in-house racing in Valencia. This period will be of great importance just over two months are to go before the start of the Marseille Louis Vuitton - Act 1 (commencing on the 5th September, 2004).
 Brad Butterworth remains faithful to Alinghi (07/02/04)
 (source : La Côte)

"I think that he want to leave", said the Alinghi's tactician speaking to the Swiss newspaper "La Côte" about Coutts's absence from the helm of SUI 64.

The news seems to be better for Alinghi concerning the other members of the Kiwi Connection.

"I committed myself to the team leaders to honour my contract until it expires (in 2007)", Butterworth said. "I don't believe that (Warwick Fleury, Simon Daubney, Dean Phipps and Murray Jones) will quit".

 American Ken Read with Team Alinghi ? (06/26/04)
 (source : Alinghi)
At the UBS Trophy, Dennis Conner's long time right hand man Ken Read gave a compelling demonstration of his talents which may lead to an America's Cup berth in 2007.

Veteran America’s Cup sailor was on board SUI 64 as a "special guest" with Team Alinghi, adding his local knowledge of the area to the Alinghi afterguard.

"It is an honour for us to have Ken Read sail with us. He is a local here and knows the water", Ernesto Bertarelli said. "Yesterday was the first day and he learned how to work with us and today we see some of the results".

"So we are pleased with what he has been contributing…it worked today and that could be an option (to have him join the team). We are looking at different sailors. We clearly have to hire more people and Ken could be one person".

Ken Read was the helmsman during the 2000 and 2003 Stars & Stripes America's Cup Challenge and was the strategist and sailing coach for Young America in 1995.

He is a six-time J/24 World Champion and a two-time Corel 45 World Champion. He was a member of the victorious U.S. Admiral's Cup Team in 1997 and has 36 National, North American and World Championship titles to his credit .
 Coutts exit deals cup blow to Alinghi (06/22/04)
 (source : Daily Telegraph)
The Swiss biotech billionaire was speaking exclusively to The Daily Telegraph about Coutts's absence from the helm of SUI 64 at the UBS Trophy regatta in Newport, Rhode Island.

"For me to find that he doesn't want to jump on an Alinghi boat is a bit of surprise given that what I basically hired him for was helming," Bertarelli said. "If the guy doesn't want to do his basic task, we have a bit of problem."

Bertarelli also indicated that he would resist any attempt by Coutts to join a rival team ahead of the America's Cup, which Alinghi will defend in 2007.

"Right now, I need to protect the team more than anything," he said. "I don't want to find myself in a Team New Zealand situation [when Bertarelli hired Coutts away from the cup holders in 2000]. Frankly, and fortunately, I think I drafted my contracts a little better than Team New Zealand."

However, he would prefer Coutts to stay. "There's no question that we would be better off with Russell motivated and kicking. I appreciated him for what he did for our team [in 2003]. I know his strengths and that's why I am hoping for a resolution."

Bertarelli is at a loss to explain Coutts's disenchantment, but he believes it has nothing to do with their relationship, money or Coutts's position in the decision-making hierarchy.

"It's not a question of relationships," Bertarelli said. "For me, it's very clear. We won the cup. We rolled in to 2003 and signed all the necessary contracts and we agreed all the financial terms and everything was to happen as planned. Then, suddenly, he is dissatisfied.

"Bertarelli's choice of Valencia as host city for 2007 is cited as one example of Coutts's reduced influence. Coutts preferred Lisbon

."He contributed, he was briefed," Bertarelli said. "But at the end of the day I have to take some decisions. We can't change roles here."