It's been a busy time for skipper, Brad Butterworth, as Alinghi endeavours to get the America's Cup action back on the water.
Brad took time out from his busy scedule to talk to Marian Martin, just after the October 30 AC33 meeting in Geneva.
Today was the competitors meeting. What happened?
Eleven of the official entries for the Cup were there with us and we’re all keen to get on with it. We started off going over what had been agreed last time, with those that entered early on; we went through it again, because this time there’s more teams involved and we talked a bit about having a bit smaller boat and moving on.
Did you come to any definite conclusions about the boat?
No, we looked at the parameters of it and started a consultation process, with all the challengers, which Tom’s going to run. We talked about what sort of boat it should be and there was consensus that it should be a fast, modern sort of boat that could be sailed in other events, like the Sardinia Cup and the King’s Cup, in Palma, that sort of thing.
Any chance that it might, actually, be seagoing and able to do events like the recent Middle Sea Race?
You never know, I think it’s more likely to be a boat for coastal racing, rather than offshore, but it will certainly be a new generation compared to the Cup Class yachts we’ve got now.
Did you get the impression that many changes to the AC 33 protocol, as it ended up by this time last year, would be needed?
I don’t think so, we told the challengers we were here to talk, but with all the amendments we’ve made so far they seem happy with it as it stands. We all just want to get on with the event and make it a good event.
Obviously BOR wasn’t there and they’ve made it clear they think they should be involved in any AC33 discussions. How do the challengers feel about them not being part of it?
Everyone’s fine with that. They understand that Oracle hasn’t entered and that they can enter and be part of this. No problem with that.
If AC33 can get underway it will be great for teams, sailors and fans, but there seem to be some snags. Its tough getting sponsorship, especially at short notice and it must be even tougher in today’s economic climate. How do you see potential sponsors reacting when teams say “Will you sponsor us in an event that might, or might not, lead to an America’s Cup match?”
Yes, but we can only do so much. We’re trying to encourage Oracle to give up the court case and join in with the other teams, so we can all get on with the next event. If they can’t do that then there’s not going to be any certainty until the Appeal Court rules in June, or whenever it is.
2010 is Soccer World Cup Year and that was, originally, a reason for not having the America’s Cup then. What’s changed?
I think it’s the world that’s changed, on the financial side of it, and every year that goes by it could get more difficult to get this thing going.
Do you think GGYC might try to get an injunction to stop you holding an event that you’ve billed as “getting the 33rd America’s Cup back on track.”
Ugh, I’ve got no time for that, you’re asking the wrong person
Some of the AC 33 entrants weren’t in AC 32, so they don’t have a V5 boat. Do you think teams with two will be willing to charter one?
Definitely! There’s a good feeling amongst all the teams. We all want to do everything we can to get the event going. We are much stronger as a group and everyone is going to work together.
You've said the protocol is likely to remain, more or less, the same. How can Coutts and Ehman persuade Larry he should enter when they’ve been telling him he has no chance of winning under that protocol for well over a year?
I don’t know; I can’t convince them they’re not right and Russell’s a good friend. In the end, they have to do what they feel they have to do. We can talk to them until we’re blue in the face, but if they think they should continue with the court case there’s nothing we can do.
Ernesto seems to believe that whenever he gets close to an agreement with Larry, Russell Coutts steps in and it’s back to the same old stance. What could Russell’s motive be?
I don’t know, I think that’s something you need to talk to the principals about; I can’t talk for other people. I don’t want to put words into their mouths.
Ellison says “There is a danger that the impact and suspense of the AmCup Match will be diluted” if the Defender is in the Challenger series.” It’s a fact that people follow the AmCup who haven’t got a clue what a TP52, or RC44 regatta is about and couldn’t care less and the suspense is a big part of what attracts them. How do you feel about that?
We were in it last time and they followed that.
Yes, but not right to the end.
No, but we’d two boat testing last time. It’s a matter of fairness. If you’ve got a guy whose going to race over 100 metres, in the Olympics, he’s going to have to race in the run up. He isn’t going to get anywhere if all he’s done is run by himself; he won’t stand a chance.
No, but why couldn’t you have two boat testing for the defender, but not for the challengers?
Yeah, but if you want to win the Cup you’ve got to be the best when you go into it; that’s what you want, that’s what sport’s all about. So, why not have a competition all together, on the same level playing field, rather than the defender having two boats and not the challengers? I don’t know about the challengers, but I’d feel uncomfortable about that.
It would keep that “How good is the Defender this year” aspect.
The mystery? I’m not sure there’s ever a mystery.
Getting AC33 on the water is some way off, but there is the CNEV regatta to look forward to. Is it true that Luna Rossa will take part?
It’s the Yacht Club that’s dealing with this, but yes, it looks like they will be in
What about UITG, it would be great to see Ed and Jochen go head to head in SUI 100 & 91?
I know they’d love to be there, but I don’t think they’ll be able to.
You’re in the LVPS now, how do you feel about racing in NZ again?
I’m really looking forward to it.
Do you think Alinghi can win, given that it hasn’t exactly focused on monohull match racing this year?
No, I’d say the final will be between Oracle and TNZ. They’re providing the boats, so they should be able to do better than any other teams, but we’ll give it our best shot and I’m really looking forward to it.
Finally, I know you can’t say much about your multi, but maybe you can answer this. We asked Marc Lombard to comment on the BOR 90 and his instant reaction was “A total lack of imagination.” Do you think he’s likely to say the same thing about the Alinghi boat?