Monday, December 7, 2009

Wait worth it for Butterworth

By William Johnson -

RAS AL KHAIMAH // Brad Butterworth was the epitome of relaxation aboard the hugely impressive Alinghi V, the yacht he has been entrusted to skipper in what eventually, courts permitting, will be a nerve-wracking defence of the America’s Cup.

The legal wrangling that has tarnished the 33rd staging of sport’s oldest international competition has passed by the hard-bitten sailor who is a veteran of three triumphant campaigns to win the famous trophy.

The New Zealander has been irritated by the series of delays to the best-of-three-race series against the United States challenger Oracle BMW Racing but remains focused on fine-tuning the Swiss catamaran towards what he is confident will be a successful defence.

“It has been great here and we will all be very sad if the courts decide we have to move out and transfer to Valencia [in Spain],” he said. “Whatever happens, though, our time here has been invaluable. The conditions have been just what we wanted.

“The last couple of months have given us a great opportunity to get the boat to a certain level which we needed to reach to have a chance of winning.”

Since the yacht arrived at Al Hamra by cargo ship from its original Genoa training base at the end of September, only four planned sailing days have been lost – three of them to the weather, the other because of a breakage to part of the vessel’s hull.

“That’s remarkable,” said Butterworth as his support staff attended to a small tear in one of Alinghi’s massive sails in double quick time before letting the boat loose on Gulf waters. - Read more