Skip to main content

Coutts may cut ties with Team Alinghi

The skipper of the Swiss syndicate didn’t sail in the UBS Trophy series against rival BMW Oracle

The skipper of the Swiss syndicate didn’t sail in the UBS Trophy series against rival BMW Oracle

Kiwi sailor Russell Coutts may not sail with Swiss defender Team Alinghi in the next America’s Cup. Coutts reportedly is unhappy with the syndicate, and there are rumors that he will leave to eventually start his own series of races.

Coutts, who has been involved with three successful America’s Cup campaigns — two with his native New Zealand and the 2003 victory with Alinghi — didn’t sail with his syndicate during the June UBS Trophy series in Newport, R.I. Brad Butterworth, who with Coutts defected to the upstart Alinghi from Team New Zealand in 2000, also was absent from the UBS Trophy racing.

Butterworth had smashed his ankle after he crashed a Mercedes into a brick wall at 3:30 a.m. at the end of Newport’s Bellevue Avenue the day before racing began. His passenger, noted sailor and Cup veteran Dawn Riley, broke several fingers. Riley was in town to provide live commentary during the race for a local radio station and for the hundreds of spectators who gathered to watch the action from Fort Adams State Park.

BMW Oracle, which recently announced a new sponsorship agreement with German automaker BMW, bested rival Alinghi to win the UBS Trophy. After a week of intense head-to-head match racing in IACC yachts, the regatta came down to two races, one for the Pro-Driver Series between Oracle and Alinghi and one for the Owner-Driver contest between Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli. BMW Oracle Racing dominated both races, finishing the Pro-Driver Series with a final score of 16-6 and the Owner-Driver Series 4-2. BMW Oracle Racing won seven of the 11 Pro- Driver races in the series and three of four Owner-Driver races.

BMW Oracle Racing officials declined to specify its new sponsorship deal, but the challenger of record says the deal includes technical knowledge and marketing expertise. With the help of BMW engineers, the syndicate hopes to develop a yacht that is lighter, stronger and faster.

In other Cup news

• Organizers unveiled a new logo for the 32nd America’s Cup on the official Web site, The “Blazing Cup” features flames sparked from two dueling yachts at the base of the Cup that spiral up along its edge. The logo is intended to symbolize the intensity and passion of the drama that is the America’s Cup. The slogan “There will be no second” paraphrases the famous response to a question posed by a disappointed Queen Victoria as she watched the yacht America cross the finish line ahead of the British fleet more than 150 years ago.

• Team New Zealand head Grant Dalton announced a $21 million sponsorship deal with Dubai-based Emirates Airlines that will make possible the syndicate’s challenge for the 2007 America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain. The syndicate will be known as Emirates Team New Zealand. Dalton also announced the addition of Americans Terry Hutchinson and Kevin Hall to Team New Zealand. American Rod Davis is a coach for the Kiwis. The design team includes members from Britain, Italy, Spain and Japan.