Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oracle promise "normal" Cup...

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Article By Paul Lewis -

Russell Coutts will not skipper the trimaran in the America's Cup battle against Alinghi - but says Oracle will back a 'normal' America's Cup regatta in 2011 involving all challengers if they win the big multi-hull showdown.

Coutts, regarded by many as the best sailor in the world, is tactician on the Swedish boat Artemis at the Audi Med Cup regatta in Alicante.

But he has ruled himself out of trying to steer the massive trimaran with a truly scary sail area and reputedly able to garner impressive boat speed in even moderate winds.

"Something like that [the trimaran] is a 100 per cent, full-time, focus and I'm quite happy to say it's not my area of expertise. James Spithill will skipper it and he and the crew have been doing nothing else but working out on it and getting to grips with it."

However, Coutts, as CEO of BMW Oracle racing, said an Oracle win would more than likely lead to a conventional, multi-challenger America's Cup regatta in 2011.

Coutts was withering about the Alinghi court challenge that ended abruptly last week when the New York Supreme Court ruled the big multi-hulls contest would take place in February - Alinghi wanted May.

Coutts said Alinghi's allegations of espionage were "ridiculous" and sought to make "something out of nothing".

"It is an accepted part of what goes on in the America's Cup," he said. "We all do it - that's why Alinghi have had people like [New Zealand Alinghi sailors] Peter Evans and Warwick Flury hanging round in San Diego. Last time I was there, I took them all out to dinner - that's how normal it is.

"But they [Alinghi] were quite vicious about our guy - they tried to make out he'd trespassed when it was quite clear he hadn't and they tried to make out it was a criminal thing when it wasn't."

Asked if he thought Alinghi might resort to court action again if they did not win the multi-hull challenge, Coutts said he didn't know. He also did not know if Alinghi would choose Valencia or a Southern Hemisphere venue.

Team NZ boss Grant Dalton, however, wasn't so shy.

"I'd say it would be a disadvantage to Alinghii if they tried the Southern Hemisphere.
"Logistically, I think it would just end up being a distraction to them and they could end up shooting themselves in the foot."