SCUTTLEBUTT 1248 - January 27, 2003
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A Weekend Herald investigation has uncovered more details of the bitter
power-play that unfolded during the switch from a Sir Peter Blake-led
administration to one that was supposed to be headed by Coutts, Butterworth
and Tom Schnackenberg.
Butterworth this week told a small group of foreign journalists that the
pair were "locked out" of Team New Zealand - a claim vehemently rejected by
two men who dealt directly with Coutts and Butterworth to establish Team
New Zealand's 2003 campaign. They said it was the millionaire yachtsmen who
made a deal and then reneged.
Team New Zealand trust chairman Ralph Norris, who joined at Coutts' request
in 1999, was insulted by the pair's comments. "It tends to cast aspersions
on me as a director that somehow or other I have acted inappropriately," he
said. "I find that totally unacceptable. If Russell and Brad genuinely felt
that the task was too big for them, then they probably did everybody a favour."
Lion Breweries director Mike Smith, who represented the family of five in
post-cup negotiations, said he felt very let down by the pair, particularly
Butterworth, whom he had known for many years. "With Russell, perhaps, I
shouldn't have been surprised. A few people would say that Russell is a
very self-centred guy."
Coutts wanted to double the $50 million 2000 campaign budget, but Sir Peter
and the outgoing trustees opposed any proposal which would have sacrificed
the family of five sponsors - Steinlager, Telecom, Lotto, Toyota and TVNZ.
Coutts was already unpopular with the sponsors after a two-year battle with
Sir Peter and the old trustees over what he saw as misallocation of money
in the defence. He believed that Sir Peter and three of his managers were
being paid too much compared with what was spent on the sailors and the boats.
* Sean Reeves, who left Team New Zealand to set up OneWorld and was
embroiled in the cup spy scandal, saw first hand the bitter bust-up between
Sir Peter and Coutts. "If some people saw what Coutts had to go through,
they might have understood better what he did," Reeves said. The break-up
of the team was "driven by greed - everything in the cup always is", said
Reeves. - Eugene Bingham and James Gardiner, New Zealand Herald
There is a lot more to this story:
Record 90 year low temperatures and strong winds made for unexpected
conditions on the final day of racing. The start of the last race was
postponed for 90 minutes while the wind dropped and the crews bundled up
against the cold. "It's more like winter series racing in the Solent than
Key West out there." said Olympic Silver Medallist Keith Musto. Once
underway the crews were in for some outstanding racing with 18-22 knots of
breeze from the NNE.
The Key West Trophy for the International Team Championship---as close to a
world championship of inshore sailing as the sport has these days---was won
by Italy for the fourth time in five years by two points over Germany. The
Italians' boats were Vincenzo Onorato's Farr 40, Breeze; Pierpaolo's
Cristofori's Mumm 30, Printel Wind, and Maspero Giovanni's Melges 24, Joe Fly.
The Terra Nova Trading Boat of the Week Trophy was won by Zuni Bear,
Richard Bergmann's J/105 from San Francisco. Zuni Bear started slowly but
won three of the last four races to edge Jim Sorensen's Wet Leopard, Sag
Harbor, N.Y., by one point, with three others within three points.
Second place in the final race of the series was enough to give Flavio
Favini, helming for Franco Rossini, his second consecutive Melges 24 Key
West title 14 points ahead of Brian Porter. Not a bad result for a man who
earlier in the week had commented that he felt his starting could do with a
bit of improvement after a year out of the boat due to commitments with the
Mescal Latino America's Cup team.
With the 1D35 title assured, David Kirk's Détente, Chicago, along with all
but one of the rest of the class, sat out the day. The exception was Doug
and Dick DeVos' Windquest, which sailed to a solitary victory and second
place overall. The 14 Corsair 28R trimarans also stayed in port, allowing
Bob and Doug Harkrider of Belvedere, S.C., sailing Bad Boys, to stand on
their three-point lead over Donald Wigston's Whipper Snapper, Atlanta.
With the race committee deciding in advance to sail only one race Friday,
the Geremia / Harris Farr 40 Crocodile Rock had all but a lock following
Thursday's disqualification of Jim Richardson's Barking Mad. The Croc's
ninth place in the final race was good enough for a 19 point win over John
Kilroy's Samba Pa Ti. Because the Farr 40 class did not have a 'throwout,'
Richardson had to live with the 25 points he got for the DSQ and finished
third. - Rich Roberts & Fiona Brown. Complete results at
www.Premiere-Racing.com. Photos: http://www.regattaphotos.com/
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JULES VERNE TROPHY
* The weather situation is about as complicated as can be but starting
record attempts is never an easy task. Based on the current weather
forecast Ellen MacArthur and her crew will leave Lorient (NW France) on
board Kingfisher2 tomorrow in fairly clement conditions to make the 130
mile passage to the Jules Verne start area between Ushant (France) and the
Lizard (UK) at the mouth of the English Channel. However, it is unlikely
that Kingfisher2's non-stop round the world Jules Verne record attempt will
start until Wednesday.
The weather forecast for Tuesday is for strong 25-30 knot winds from the
north west - which is exactly the direction Kingfisher2 needs to sail in to
reach the start area - combined with a 7-8 metre swell making the passage
from Lorient extremely difficult in conditions that could potentially
damage the boat and tire the crew.
"It is a really tough call and things could change," said MacArthur. "But
we know that trying to get from Lorient to the start area on Tuesday would
be a nightmare so we decided to go early and leave Lorient on Monday
afternoon. Equally we can see there is an opportunity to cross the start
line on Wednesday as the wind moves back to the north and, perhaps more
importantly, the sea state also decrease. It is usually the sea state that
stops us sailing these boats at their full potential not the wind - so it
is not smart to start when we can't sail at our maximum." -
* Early Sunday, Geronimo crossed the fortieth parallel heading south-east
towards South Africa and should round the Cape of Good Hope tomorrow. The
Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran continues to maintain an
impressive pace and is now nearly a thousand nautical miles ahead of Bruno
Peyron's record. The Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric
trimaran should cross the 40° south parallel and enter the Roaring Forties
some time this evening. Geronimo is now flying towards Cape Town powered by
nearly 30 knots of wind from the north-north-west and has averaged 23 knots
since the start of the day. They have traveled 527 miles is the past 24
hours for an average speed of 21.97 knots. - http://www.grandsrecords.com
CAPE TO RIO
The trimaran, Nicator skippered by professional yachtsman Klabbe Nylöf,
crossed the finishing line in Guanabara Bay Friday at 10h48 (Brazilian
time) for an elapsed time of 12 days 23 hours 47 minutes and 54 seconds.
While this performance smashed the multi-hull record by almost six days, it
was about 10 hours slower than the race record set by Zephyrus IV in 2000.
* A France UNCL team led by Gery Trentesaux has officially entered the
2003 Admirals Cup Regatta. At this time there are two other confirmed
entries - the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney, and a RORC team led
by Peter Harrison. The Admiral's Cup is scheduled to take place in Cowes
from 10-23 July. Teams will consist of two boats - one from IMS600 class
and one large IRC boat. The Notice of Race is online: www.rorc.org
* Bruno Trouble, a three-time cup skipper and Louis Vuitton event
spokesman in Auckland, says the battle for the America's Cup won't be a
truly big event again until it's back in European hands. "If the cup stays
in New Zealand, I don't think we will have more than six to eight
challengers," he said. "If the cup goes to Europe, there will be 12
challengers at least. Either this time or next time, it will be a huge deal
in Europe. - Andrew Sanders, Sunday Star Times, Full story:
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Police are investigating whether letters threatening violence against the
families of Alinghi's America's Cup sailors could have emanated from within
the syndicate. The Weekend Herald has heard claims that the letters were
fakes, sent by people close to the syndicate for ulterior motives. Police
say they cannot rule out any scenario and the inquiry remains wide open.
The Herald this week received a letter from lawyers acting for a man
closely aligned with the syndicate denying responsibility for the letters
and threatening legal action if the paper published a story linking him to
Alinghi have boosted their security since members of the Swiss syndicate,
which includes Team NZ defectors Brad Butterworth and Russell Coutts,
received two letters last month threatening members' families and property
and the syndicate base.
* The head of the inquiry, Detective Mike Cartwright, had agreed to meet
the Herald yesterday to discuss the case, but shortly before the meeting
police press officer Jeoff Barraclough rang to say the interview was off
and there would be no further comment. This was in light of "recent
events", he said, alluding to reports that Team Alinghi had been fined
$10,000 for flouting rules forbidding them from Team New Zealand's practice
zone on the Hauraki Gulf. He said police did not want to get involved in
any further "Machinations" between the America's Cup teams. - Tony Wall, NZ
Herald, full story:
LETTERS TO THE CURMUDGEON (email@example.com)
(Letters selected for publication must include the writer's name and may be
edited for clarity or space - 250 words max. This is not a chat room or a
bulletin board - you only get one letter per subject, so give it your best
shot and don't whine if others disagree.)
* From J. Joseph Bainton (edited to our 250-word limit): Those so
critical of certain Kiwis' alleged lack of patriotism in favor or Swiss
riches ought to pause to compare side by side other attributes of these
sailors (a) staying with TNZ after the 2000 defense versus (b) signing on
with Alinghi. As the inside story of TNZ slowly begins to unfold, it
appears that Messrs. Coutts, Butterworth and some of their mates made the
only choice that made any sense for them given the apparent decision of TNZ
to ignore their timely advice.
While I for one agree with Dennis Conner that it would be nice to go back
to the old rules of true "friendly competition among nations," forces
outside of NYYC forced the abandonment of that principle many Cups ago. The
conduct of these allegedly unpatriotic Kiwis should judged in the context
of the present Cup.
It would appear that TNZ has no one to blame but itself for the loss of so
many talented members of its last team. The fact that Messr. Coutts,
Butterworth and others have been so reticent to air TNZ's dirty laundry may
fairly be viewed as a demonstration of patriotism or perhaps simply
reflects their collective good taste. World Class sailors are the product
of well run junior programs and rigorous one design competition. The number
of Kiwis among the world's truly elite sailors is disproportionate to the
number of Kiwis among sailors generally. New Zealand has much about which
to be proud including the Kiwi members of the Alinghi team.
* From Theo Muller, Wellington, New Zealand (edited to our 250-word
limit): A few months ago when the Blackheart campaign was launched in
support of Team New Zealand, it caused a bit of a furore amongst the
sailing fraternity as it appeared that their tactics concentrated
predominantly on downgrading Alinghi and particularly Russell Coutts and
Brad Butterworth. They were termed defectors and disloyal to their country.
I wrote to Suttlebutt defending their decision. I did not think then that
it was fair to call them defectors and disloyal. In my view they were
But how honourable are they, really? It is clear from the interview Brad
Butterworth gave to Magnus Wheatley that Butterworth wants the hula
appendage scrutinized to the nth degree, despite the fact that the
measurers have been closely involved in its development and have approved
its use. Is he going to insist on taking core samples or paint swatches
after every race? An Alinghi protest of the measurers seems on the cards.
Coutts' communication with Ross Halcrow after he "defected" from Team New
Zealand in the late nineties smacks of manipulation and even bullying.
Alinghi's recent $10,000 fine for blatantly trespassing TNZ training waters
is yet another example of less than sporting behaviour. I now have to admit
to a change of heart. Whilst I still believe that it is the prerogative of
career makers to choose how and where to shape their future, Coutts and
Butterworth have not helped themselves in retaining the admiration of
sporting New Zealanders.
* From Rees Martin: I must disagree with Chris Laidlaw. The question of
national allegiance/loyalty in AC racing can no longer be taken in
isolation - representing your country as an All Black is very different
from being part of an America Cup Team. All Blacks players come through a
structured, nationally organised selection programme via schools and clubs,
then the provinces and eventually, the trials. The achievement is in
representing New Zealand.
America Cup teams have never been sourced from such a quasi-nationally
funded selection process; self-funded selectors have very different methods
- they put nationality second to expertise. You may like it or hate it but
you can't stop it. Change the rules and watch the money move elsewhere.
Go back through the sources of AC funding and the nationality matter is
very confused; and Blackheart, please don't tell me Steinlager and Toyota
have their origins in NZ. Claiming also that BMW is a good old American
company would be laughable. Equally, if you spend a few minutes looking
through the Alinghi website, a very strong Italian connection is quite evident!
By all means base the AC Challenges around country entries but don't claim
they actually represent the country.
* From Pat Healy: If America's Cup residency is important let's expand it
to the Super Bowl. Would it be better if those players were required to be
from Tampa or Oakland? In baseball it's one city's Dominican Republicans
playing against another city's Dominican Republicans for the World Series.
Next month we'll be watching some of the best sailors in the world going
head-to-head for a trophy with a great tradition. I'm glad.
* From Peter Wormwood: To reply to Phil Olbert's position about
multihulls - Phil, as a sailor I once had the exact same opinion about
multihulls, until someone took me sailing on a good one. That took care of
that opinion. Please come to Tampa Bay so I can give the same gift to you.
CURMUDGEON'S COMMENT: I can not think of a better way to end this thread
* From Tom Carse: Gavin Brady is correct in saying that a Race Committee
that communicates with the racers is doing an excellent job. I am sure that
Ken Legler has done a great job but I would like to point out that this has
already done many times and for years by Peter Riggio (Luigi). This is
something that Luigi preaches and has taught many this trick. The racers
and Race Committee are out there for one thing - to have great races.
* From Ken Legler: Enough is enough. Race managers are not looking for
praise; a friendly wave at the finish will do. There were 96 members of the
race committee at Key West, not including scorekeepers, jury and shoreside
crew, all good, all led by Peter Craig of Premiere Racing, Inc.
Regarding communications to competitors at Key West, it's all scripted by
Premiere Racing. Having a VHF radio glued to every tactician's ear makes it
easy. In dinghy regattas the communications are done at the competitors
meeting, via Sailing Instructions and notices, and most important, by
walking through the dinghy park or beach when all the competitors are
preparing or putting their boats away.
* From Randy Tankoos: Isn't it interesting that the article in
yesterday's butt, 1246, detailed the boat names, the owners and,
parenthetically, (the tacticians) in this most competitive class which
limits the role of (professionals). I have several friends who have these
boats, race competitively with all amateur crew and pride themselves on
being able to keep up with and often beat those with (professional) help.
Would this be like referring to President Clinton (tactics by Begalla and
* From Phillip Sanderson: The laws in NZ must be different than in the
US. How is it a public body of water (the Hauraki Gulf) can have restricted
areas (Team NZ sailing areas) governed by a public agency (the police) for
pursuit of a private enterprise (the Americas Cup)?
THE CURMUDGEON'S PUNS
Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine.