America’s Cup – Brad Butterworth – The Interview

08/2008 –

Following some statements made lately by BMWOracle’s CEO Russel Coutts, Sébastien Destremau asked his comments to Alinghi skipper’s Brad Butterworth.

(Lausanne 4 August 2008)

Sebastien Destremau: Brad Butterworth, you have won the last four America’s Cup as Tactician/Skipper making you the most successful sailor by anyones standards. Your friend Russell Coutts recently said that he would not recommend his team to enter into the America’s Cup should SNG/Alinghi wins the appeal. What do you have to say about that?
Brad Butterworth: That’s up to Russell to decide what he wishes to do with BMWOracle’s team. As far as I am concerned, Russell and I have always been a good friends however we are on opposite side at the moment and have some difference of opinions. Although we don’t talk much these days, I am sure our friendship will remain.

SD: Russell Coutts seems to question SNG’s ability to run a fair regatta under this protocol and wonder if many syndicates will enter. Any comments?
BB: To hear that SNG is unable to run a fair event of the magnitude of the America’s Cup is very disappointing. The Cup last year was not too bad and we did amend the protocol 14 times between 2003 and 2007 to achieve this. Consequently, to undermine our willingness and abilities to amend the protocol along the way to make the event better is ludicrous. Many of us thought that the first protocol was a bit harsh however we did correct it and the modified document was eventually signed by all the potential challengers at the time except GGYC/BMWOracle. With new, bigger boats and cost cutting measure in place, I believe we were heading in the right direction to make the next America’s Cup one of the greatest sporting shows on earth.

SD: BMWOracle appealed last week court’s decision. Were you surprised and do you envisage them dropping their court case?
BB: Unfortunately not. I could understand their strategy for pushing the Dog match as early as possible when they had a head start on us. But now, this advantage is gone and their decision to appeal doesn’t make sense unless they only want to win the right to sail the Cup in court and not on the water.

SD: How about an out of court settlement then?
BB: When we won the court case last week, we got quite busy revising the extent of the court decision with CNEV as Challenger of Record. However there was a great opportunity and plenty of time for both parties to sit back and give a bit of thought to a settlement. Instead, BMWOracle rushing into an Appeal process showed clearly that they want this DoG match at all cost. Sir Keith Mills of TeamOrigin has generously offered to be a mediator so who knows what might happen? We would welcome an out of court settlement to put this ridiculous situation behind us now and get back to a proper multi challenger America’s Cup soonest. However I don’t even know what our options are right now and I am not going to hold my breath on a settlement!

SD: When do you foresee the next America’s Cup to be held? Being a DoG match or a multiple challengers regatta?
BB: That is the ridiculous point of the current situation actually. We have two scenarios here: A DoG Match and a “conventional” mutual consent America’s Cup.
· DoG match: It will take a minimum of six months for the New York State Court of Appeal to make a decision. Then you’ll have to add the minimum 10 months requirement set in the Deed of Gift. Being a northern hemisphere regatta the DoG match cannot happen before Summer 2010. Whoever wins the DoG Match will need another two years to organize a “conventional” 34th America’s Cup. So that pushes us back to 2012 or 2013 at the earliest!!
· Conventional regatta: If BMWOracle was to drop this ridiculous Appeal now, we would envisage having a multiple challenge regatta in 2010.

SD: Let’s consider that BMWOracle does drop their court case for a moment. You did mention a conventional regatta by 2010. Couldn’t you do it as early as next year?
BB: To be fair to all competitors and not only the richest teams, the protocol forbids a regatta to be organized any earlier than 18 months after the AC90 class rules are released. It would be very easy for us to get all the parties involved around the table and discuss the final version of the class rules before releasing it. The America’s Cup would be 18 months after that.

SD: Given the bad blood between your teams, would you welcome BMWOracle as a competitor in a conventional regatta?
BB: You mean if they dropped their court or lose the appeal? Yes with open arms definitively. BMWOracle is a great team and we would love to have them in the next event. However we would have to run past this decision with all the Challengers. After all they are the ones that have been suffering the most lately and I cannot anticipate their decision as some of them are very upset about the present situation.

SD: Speaking of great teams being part of the next America’s Cup – Any comment regarding Team New Zealand?
BB: Same goes for them. Although, I think Grant Dalton is a bit confused at the moment however from what I have heard he seemed quite please with the outcome of last week’s ruling.

SD: One final question, Brad. Where are you at with the DoG Monster?
BB: (laugh) That is even more confusing. We do not know what to do as the goal post is changing all the time. We have a pretty important meeting tomorrow (today) here in Lausanne and we’ll see if we need to reassess our launch date.

SD: Launch date being?
BB: All the parts are near completion and we are very close to the hulls being put together. Our original launch date was towards the end of the year, but given the new scenario, we might want to postpone it.

SD: Thank you for your time Brad.

Sebastien Destremau

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