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Coutts sitting out the next Cup

The three-time winner will not compete as part of an agreement with his former team

The three-time winner will not compete as part of an agreement with his former team

New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts has reached an agreement with the Swiss America’s Cup syndicate, which fired him last year, but he will not sail in the next America’s Cup regatta.

A three-time winner of the America’s Cup — twice for his homeland New Zealand and with the Swiss team Alinghi in 2003 — Coutts was fired by billionaire syndicate leader Ernesto Bertarelli for failing to perform his duties. Coutts did not sail against BMW Oracle during exhibition sailing in Newport, R.I., last year. But the two men also had a contentious riff over management issues. Among other things, Coutts had wanted to change the Cup boats to draw more teams into the regatta and to create more exciting racing.

Alinghi, which as defender is responsible for managing the next regatta, changed the eligibility rules. The change prohibited Coutts from sailing with another syndicate. Grievances were filed but in March, Alinghi issued a brief statement maintaining that an amicable agreement had been reached. The statement also maintained that there would be no further comment and Coutts would not sail in the 2007 regatta in Valencia, Spain. It is unclear whether Coutts will be able to perform off-water duties for another syndicate.

Meanwhile, Alinghi has moved into its new base camp at Real Club Nautico de Valencia. BMW Oracle, the challenger of record, is the only U.S. entry to date. The other syndicates are Team Shosholoza from South Africa, Emirates New Zealand, K-Challenge from France, Victory Challenge from Sweden, Desafio Espanol from Spain and three Italian syndicates +39 Challenge, Luna Rossa Challenge and Team Capitalia.