"Personal attacks launched by Alinghi owner
Ernesto Bertarelli over recent days were outrageous
and quite simply untrue", Russell Coutts said
today. "Until now I have been very reluctant
to enter into a public exchange, as we have begun
an arbitration process in Switzerland where both
parties are bound by confidentiality obligations
and my strong preference is to have these matters
dealt with properly in the appropriate forum".
"But over recent days as the level of personal
attack appears to have increased I have decided
I can no longer sit quietly and allow Ernesto Bertarelli
to attack me publicly.
I am looking at all my legal options. But I have
to make it clear that I am astounded at the tone
of the accusations and absolutely reject these claims.
I am frankly appalled at the way Ernesto is attempting
to rewrite history.
Ernesto Bertarelli has sought to paint a picture
of being surprised by my decision not to sail at
Newport. But the fact is that I had informed him
of my intention not to sail and my reasons for that
decision both in writing and verbally well before
I originally entered into this campaign with Alinghi
with a very high level of commitment. Contrary to
his latest suggestions, our differences resulted
from Ernesto’s management style and his failure
to honour our contractual commitments. After our
success in 2003 I had expected to continue to play
a central role in team leadership and be fully informed
and involved in all key decisions but this was denied
I am stunned that Ernesto has seen fit to publicly
refer to my salary and I believe it is an irresponsible
way for an employer to behave. We mutually agreed
my salary a long time ago which was similar to the
amount agreed for our successful 2003 campaign.
It is totally ridiculous to suggest that my salary
was in any way comparable with those of top soccer
It is all the more surprising that Ernesto is making
an issue of this now, in contradiction to his earlier
insistence to media and others that money was not
the issue behind our dispute.
It is also totally false for Ernesto to say that
I had lost motivation and asked to resign – another
incredible allegation he has repeated in several
recent interviews. I would doubt that anyone who
worked with me over three successful America’s Cup
campaigns or on any of my other sailing projects
would believe this.
Ernesto doesn’t even appear to really believe it
himself – if he did, he wouldn’t have changed the
rules to lock me out of competing in 2007.
What’s not widely understood is the fact that when
Ernesto Bertarelli illegally terminated my employment,
the restraint provisions in my contract ceased to
apply. This explains why he instigated a new rule
in the America’s Cup Protocol excluding me from
participating in the competition only 10 days before
he dismissed me.
I object to being excluded and believe the new rule
is unsportsmanlike, and, although clearly aimed
at me, bad for sailing in general.
It is also totally false for Ernesto to claim that
I gave up my leadership role. In fact, following
our win in 2003, he was the one who initiated a
new management style and who increasingly began
to make decisions on his own behalf. This was at
odds with the decision-making processes and philosophies
I had believed we would follow and which had proved
so successful during the previous campaign.
The facts are that I love the America's Cup. I worked
hard for Alinghi and I am proud of what we achieved
as a team. I am trying to maintain a sense of appropriate
behaviour, and avoid this sort of messy public exchange.
However this latest outburst by Ernesto is a deliberate
attempt to damage my reputation and I will continue
to respond to such false claims in order to protect
I noted that in one interview Ernesto acknowledged
an explicit link between his launching this attack
and public opinion polls in Switzerland which have
indicated a high level of public disapproval of
his management of this issue and his retrospective
changing of the rules.
Frankly, I think his behaviour is becoming a
bit demeaning – to himself, to me and to the sport
we love. I find it amazing that we have been unable
to resolve our differences in a private and professional
manner and I look forward to having these issues
dealt with properly in the appropriate forums."