Thursday, December 10, 2009

'Mutual Consent' - two beautiful words

Team CEO Russell Coutts (NZL) addressed delegates at the World Yacht Racing Forum in Monaco on Thursday afternoon, with Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth following in turn. The two principals of the teams who will race in the 33rd America's Cup Match in February each spoke ahead of a larger group discussion about the future of Cup.

On the heels of a magnificent slide show from team photographer Gilles Martin-Raget (FRA), Coutts opened by speaking about the BOR 90, the powerful trimaran his team has designed and built to race in the Match. Featuring for a sail the biggest wing ever built, Coutts called the boat a triumph of imagination, design and engineering. He also paid tribute to Alinghi's catamaran.

"I think in another 100 years, people might look back and see the BOR 90 and Alinghi 5 in the same way we now look at Reliance and Shamrock - as two of the most extreme Cup yachts of all time and landmarks in the Cup's rich history," he said.

He went on to talk about the disputes that have plagued the Cup since July 2007, but paid a personal tribute to Butterworth, his previous tactician, saying: "Throughout these past two years, our team has tried not to personalise our differences. The fact that friendships have remained is a sign of how robust the links are between many of the people at BMW ORACLE and Alinghi. Thank you Brad, for still being Brad."

Looking towards the future, Coutts said establishing neutral management for the event would be critical. In fact, he said, the next America's Cup must be guided by the principles of neutrality, fairness and mutual consent between the Defender and challengers.

"The simplicity of the Deed is its beauty, particularly the words ‘mutual consent’," Coutts noted. "It works.

"The first step to a healthier future has to be truly independent management of the sporting issues. I believe this as does Larry Ellison, who has made a public pledge to have professional and independent management if BMW ORACLE is successful."

This seemed to match up with what the majority of Cup teams want, if the group panel discussion which followed was anything to go by. A point repeated time and again was that the class of boat, for example, should be something the majority of the teams support.

Coutts closed his talk by emphasising that much of what of the America's Cup community wants can be achieved under the terms of the existing Deed of Gift.

"All it takes is a commitment to Mutual Consent. The two most beautiful words in the Deed of Gift."