On the eve of the first act of the 32nd edition
of the America's Cup, Ernesto Bertarelli, the boss
of Alinghi, explained in an interview to the Swiss
newspaper "l'Hebdo" why he had to separate
from Russell Coutts.
Until now, Ernesto Bertarelli has remained
silent, swallowing attacks and criticisms because
he did not want to engage in a "ping-pong match"
with someone who had been his friend.
"If I refrained from explaining myself until
now, it is because I know from experience that it
is very hard, under these circumstances, to win
against a Russell Coutts. I am cast in the role
of the evil man, I am financing the team and because
of my wealth, in the eyes of the public, I am the
one with the upper hand."
Here are short excerpts ...
"It was clear from the beginning that if we
were to win the Cup, we would create two operational
companies: Team Alinghi that would be in charge
of the team, reporting to Russell, and America's
Cup Management (ACM) headed by Michel Bonnefous,
which would be in charge of managing the event.
It was Russell himself who defended this idea, which
is why his subsequent about-face puzzles me. When
he says he was not allowed to define the design
of the boats, that's not true."
"After the victory in Auckland, I gave
him all the reins to repeat our success in 2007.
But in Newport in late June, when he refused to
come aboard, I was obliged to admit that there was
a problem and that he was looking for a way to leave
"When he returned from his vacation in February,
I began to realize that he was no longer committed
to Alinghi. He came to my office and told me: "I
am not motivated any more, I won the Cup three times,
I have other projects, I would like to quit the
team. He gave me his resignation, but I refused
to accept it.".
"I gave him everything. He had total control
on Alinghi. He was the one who decided to forego
the operational aspects in order to satisfy his
"Russell Coutts's salary ranks among the
top 20 in Switzerland. He is as well-paid as the
greatest football stars of today. I cannot divulge
the terms of the contract, but you'd be shocked.
His salary does not lag behind that of the main
"The truth is that with Michel Bonnefous, our
interest lies in preparing a beautiful event in
2007, while Russell Coutts wanted to make a lot
of money. In November, he already received 75% of
the enormous salary we agreed upon for the 2007
"Russell Coutts and Alinghi Holding will find
themselves in court. I will fight with all my strength
to defend principles of integrity and loyalty. If
people understand this, great; if not, too bad.
But I know that this is the only way to build the
future and to protect the team."