"YOU ARE DESTROYING SMALL TEAMS"
On Friday October 26, GGYC issued a press release stating that "Golden Gate Yacht Club will agree to comprehensive new compromises to get the America's Cup back on track, for 2009, if the defender will disclose its rule for the boat's design."
The fact that Larry Ellison was quoted in the release, rather than Russell Coutts, or Tom Ehman, gave rise to a general feeling that settlement was close. During the 24 hours that followed, it became increasingly clear that optimism was fading; what was not clear was precisely why.
On Saturday afternoon, BYM News phoned Shosholoza boss, Captain Salvatore Sarno, to get his view of the situation. A clearly emotional Captain Sarno spoke at some length, before saying that he was speaking from his hospital bed, in an intensive care unit. It was a sobering moment.
What follows are Salvatore Sarno's passionate words, spoken in the hope of an end to the court proceedings.
I have one message for Russell Coutts, Tom Ehman and Larry Ellison “You are destroying small teams.”
We are all on standby, we cannot present any proposals to sponsors, what they are doing to us small teams is a scandal.
Yesterday, today and I believe also tomorrow the competitors’ commission is working on very important changes to the design, which will entirely negate any advantage that Alinghi was supposed to have. My new designer Alex Simonis has already told me that the displacement change, from 25 to 23 tons, has already meant that – if Alinghi had done any previous work – 80% would have to be done again. That didn’t seem to be good enough for Coutts, so they are still working on changes.
We are all very, very upset with Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison.
Russell Coutts is looking for excuses, he doesn’t want an America’s Cup in this 90 foot boat, he wants it in the Russell Coutts 90 foot boat.
Before Team Shosholoza came about, I read many books about the America’s Cup and so many stories were about espionage and counter espionage and politics and court cases and then we had Valencia this time and it was fantastic, a true sporting event of the highest calibre. Now we are back to politics and a court battle between two of the richest men in the world, which is excluding everyone else. It is a scandal.
I want to be in Valencia, in 2009, and I want Larry Ellison to be there too, because I want to beat him on the water.
You know that Jason Kerr has left me to go to Team Germany, but before that he was confident we had enough time to build a new boat. Alex Simonis, my new designer is confident too. We are sure we can build a very good boat, a very competitive boat, so I don’t understand why Russell Coutts is making things so difficult.
As I said, the commission is meeting now, in Valencia, I have someone there who is in constant contact with Alex Simonis. ACM is willing to make changes, but these must be the changes that are discussed between challengers; it must be what they want and not only those Mr Russell Coutts wants. We have invited Russell Coutts to sit in this commission, to discuss with us, but not to dictate, which is exactly what they want to do. They want to dictate.
For me, that the blame lies with Ernesto Bertarelli is something that I will not accept, because the discussion is fantastic. Everybody is putting in their own input, so why are they not sitting at the same table with us?
I think Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison will be obliged to come to an agreement, because otherwise for them it is finished. If I were them, I would never again present my face in an America’s Cup competition.
I will tell you where I am talking from, I am in an ICU . This morning they replaced something in my heart. Most probably, what has caused my problem is all these delays, the worries, the stress.
My invitation to everybody is let’s get together, let’s finish creating the rules together, let’s build this fantastic sport and let’s give to the public an even better event than the one they had this year. What we want is to participate in that great event and not in an event that has been dictated by Russell Coutts.