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Brad Butterworth - Commenting on the 33rd America's Cup
(July 25, 2007) Since the release of the Protocol of the 33rd America’s Cup on July 5, 2007, there has been strong concern in how the Alinghi team has structured the next event. While the defender’s club, the Société Nautique de Genčve, states how they look forward to an even better 33rd America's Cup involving competitive challengers from around the world, analysts have viewed the new Protocol as being largely lopsided in favor of the defense.
This week Scuttlebutt publisher Craig Leweck contacted Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth for his comments, and he provided the following:
Part 1 - Part 2
July 24, 2007
Thanks for your email today.
I agree, the last America’s Cup series was fantastic; what a regatta and how close was the racing, but I cannot believe what has happened since. The champagne is still wet on the decks and Larry Ellison has launched a corporate raid on the America’s Cup.
After the Alinghi team won the America’s Cup in 2003, we gave ourselves almost a year to organize a venue, a schedule, pre-regattas as well as a complete re-writing of the class rules. Now we get it in the neck for not producing everything 2 days after we won the Cup while most of us still had a headache.
Larry and his fellow travelers are condemning us for not writing rules that we haven’t even thought about let alone written. It is incredibly insulting if anyone would think that after 4 years of hard work to produce such a good regatta, we would deliberately turn around and wreck it. The race officials and umpires last time did a great job and we have every intention of keeping the same people.
BMW Oracle Racing was a bad partner as our Challenger of Record for the 32nd America’s Cup. To protect their budget advantage, they stopped us from trying to reduce costs to compete in the event to encourage wider participation. This time it is obvious that it is Larry’s goal to make it more expensive for everyone. The more expensive, the more he likes it. For a month I sat in meetings with Oracle and gave up trying to agree on anything with them because they were simply a hopeless partner to try and deal with. Frankly, they did nothing to help the event. Now, they are determined to destroy the next America’s Cup for their own selfish ends unless it’s with their rules.
The history of the America’s Cup is that the challengers are always moaning no matter how good things are – because they want to win and claim they are taking it somewhere better. Last time it was a great venue with great sailing. As always in the America’s Cup, the best team always wins.
After six America’s Cup, I have never seen anything like this circus, except Michael Fay’s challenge in 1987/1988 when I was sailing around the world with Peter Blake. As with most yachtsmen, it was a joke then and it is a joke now. Oracle struggled to come 5th in the last Regatta and my advice to Larry is to get Garrard’s phone number and order a replica of the Cup and be done with it.
If Larry wins his lawsuit, there will be no challenger series in the 33rd America’s Cup. He will never give up his first chance in seven years of trying at having a shot at the Cup. It will be them and us, and frankly, I can’t get interested in that.
I have done a lot of sailing in America, and have many friends there. I know what Larry is doing is not American sportsmanship, or the American way, but that is not how it’s being seen here in Europe. It is seen as corporate America going to Court to get something it can’t get on the water.
The America’s Cup has become a way of life for many people, and if Larry is successful in his takeover, it is going to have a bad impact on a lot of families who make a living on the America’s Cup.
It is time for Larry to pick up the phone and meet with us and stop sending out lawyers. We heard nothing from them until their challenge. Last week Ernesto called Larry. Larry didn’t call back to continue a dialogue, and issued proceedings in the New York courts instead. Maybe that’s the way things happen at the Golden Gate Yacht Club when you come fifth, or maybe that’s just the privilege of the guy that owns the Club. Either way, Larry doesn’t have to enter if he doesn’t like the game.
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(July 25, 2007) In response to Brad’s email above, Scuttlebutt asked him about some of the Protocol items for the 33rd America’s Cup:
* Boat design - The change to the ACC boat used since 1992 for the past 5 events was done by group, and the change you have proposed to a new class of 90-foot boats will be done internally. With the time frame suggested, it would seem that your group would be well down the track before the rest begin lacing up their shoes. Opening up the design revision to other parties would help the cause for boat parity, which was a key element to the 32nd event. Closing the door but wanting a great 33rd event – can you have it both ways?
Brad: "Anyone who took the time to ask us was told that their designers would be consulted during the class rule writing process if they have entered. As I said at the protocol announcement, you have to have someone leading this process. As of this time, we have not written the rule or designed a boat as we are taking a well-earned holiday."
* Challenger series - Explain the change about the defender sailing in the challenger series?
Brad: "Last time we had the Acts to get everyone sailing together, but this time we have less time and fewer Acts. All the teams should have the same amount of true racing time. If the challenger trials or lead-up regattas excluded the defender, they would sit on his own for months, which is unfair and tough on sponsors also. In the end the top challenger has to race the defender anyway; it’s the same for all parties. Also, because of the one boat sailing restriction (no two boat testing for cost saving), the choice was between allowing the defender to race with challengers longer or to allow the defender special boat allowances, which would have been even more tilted to the defender."
* ACM - Can you comment on how the event administration now has control over the challenger series.
Brad: "Every major sports event has an event authority in charge of running the event. In my past Cups, none of the challengers have been happy with the running of the event but unlike the Cup in ‘92, this one turned a profit and did not go broke (organised by Tom Ehman and Co). It had bigger TV audiences and far more international coverage.
The model we use is to create a viable business for the teams rather than relying on wealthy individuals. The race officials are independent and are seen at most top grade international events."
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