Announcement of the 33rd America’s Cup. From left to right, Francisco Camps, President of Generalitat Valenciane, Elene Salgado, Spanish Minister of Infrastructure, Rita Barberà, Mayoress of Valencia, Ernesto Bertarelli, Alinghi Head Syndicate.
www.valencialife.net!Valencia Life Network very kindly provided this translation of an interview published on 6 April in Levante, a leading newspaper in Valencia, after Ernesto Bertrelli visited their offices to receive a readers' award.
Ernesto Bertarelli wants to modernize the Americas Cup, but his project has been frozen.
BMW Oracle has crossed his path and not allowed him to carry out his plans, but the picture is not over it is only in a bind. The President and owner of Alinghi looks to an uncertain future, whilst remembering the success of the 32nd Americas Cup.
The richest man in Switzerland will only start to lose sleep after the 33rd edition of the Americas Cup. If the confrontation between multihulls is in 2009 and Valencia wants to stage it, then Valencia shall have it he stated.
'Now we are in discussions with the authorities so that the contract that was signed for a conventional cup in 2009 can be adapted to the current situation, which means an exceptional Cup race in 2009 with two teams in multihulls and if we win another conventional Cup with all the syndicates in 2011. We have proposed Valencia to stage these without costing them one Euro more than they have already spent'
In the middle of all this controversy Mr Bertarelli came to the offices of our newspaper to receive a prize that was awarded last July, a recognition that pleased him. 'This is a very important prize for me, and it is the first and only prize I have ever received in Spain, whilst in Italy, I have received the Cavalier Cross and in France the Legion of Honour.
'But this prize is important because, if the Cavalier Cross was awarded by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the Legion of Hour was bestowed on me by French President Jacques Chirac, this prize was awarded by a newspaper - in other words, the public', he stated after receiving his award from Pedro Muelas the director of the Levante newspapers. 'A prize is received not requested.' He was accompanied at the ceremony by David Gallego, the man responsible for media relations at Alinghi, Communications director Paco Latorre, media relations director Eugenia Manzanas, and everyone later shared a table with Ainhoa Moll, Ferran Belda, and Amparo Barbeta from the newspaper including Mr Muelas
He stated his concern over the future of the Americas Cup, and revealed that at no time did he make any money whilst competing for the Cup in Valencia last year. 'Economically, the Americas Cup doesn't work because it is financially unsustainable. Whilst ACM did make a profit that it later distributed amongst the syndicates, the 32nd edition of the Americas Cup cost me personally 25 million Euros, and in reality the winners turned out to be the City of Valencia and the Valencian Autonomy.
'I do not need to become or do I need a Bernie Ecclestone', he stated in reference to the British owner of Formula 1 to support his views on the Americas Cup. 'But what we do need to do is to modernize the competition as it is anchored in the past. Mr Ecclestone has managed to make Formula 1 an immense show and the Grand Prix that will take place in Valencia will be an example of this development. It will be far better than the Monaco Grand Prix, and for this, modernization is necessary.
'I do not want to be another Bernie Ecclestone, but I do believe that in order for the Americas Cup to have a stable and guaranteed future, certain things must change. There has to be a balanced economic equation between sponsors and costs, and equally we cannot go to ordinary courts to dispute various aspects tothe Deed of Gift that was created in 1887. Everything that we have built up in Valencia simply cannot be in the hands of one person who makes a case before a judge in New York.
'When one is the Defender of Record, one thinks in the long term and when one is a Challenger, one thinks differently and in the short term. But I have won twice and now what I want to do is to enlarge the competition. I have one vision of the Americas Cup and others seek only to win through any strategy. The various projects should be concentrated in order to undergo some cost control, with for example only one boat, and less people the costs are reduced considerably, and with lower budgets more people stand a chance of winning the Cup.
'With the Americas Cup, everything is called into question. when we decided on Valencia in 2003, we received an avalanche of criticism after we had chosen the city, over the race formats, the various Acts, and now we are starting a new edition and more problems arise. The positive and negative balance of any project is always undertaken at the end, and that was an assessment can be undertaken.'
With respect to the 33rd edition of the Cup, which will be undertaken in multihulls, Mr Bertarelli showed great enthusiasm for the project, but added that he was also uneasy over it, as it represents uncertainty for the Valencian Community and for all those people as well as their wives and families who are involved. 'For a City like Valencia to have two multihulls in the sea will be a huge and magnificent spectacle. Never have two monsters like this raced before, it will be different, spectacular, incredible and unique - a bit like a Cassius Clay-George Foreman boxing championship.'
However, Alinghi will only compete if the regatta takes place in 2009. If the judge accedes to the demands from BMW Oracle and imposes a 2008 date, the Cup is in danger. 'For us it is quite impossible to compete in 2008 as in that period of time we will never have a boat that is the slightest competitive. On top of that, the Deed of Gift envisages that the Challenger has to give the Defender ten months to prepare, and this period begins from March 19, when the findings were published.'
He also stated that there was no personal confrontation between him and Larry Ellison, adding that the court case is not a battle between two egos. 'I have a good relationship with him and believe we could work well together, the problem is with the people who work for him.' But he also did not fail to point out his disagreement with the owner of BMW Oracle. 'For him the Cup is a mere whim, whilst I am fully involved with the team and work daily with them.'
'For him it is a blank cheque, but this is not a painting by Picasso that you like and are able to buy, the Cup has to be won on the water.'
In the Rising Sun his (Ellison's) own boat, which up until a few months ago was the largest private boat in the world, the American tycoon has a pedestal and an entire room given over to exhibiting the One Hundred Guineas Trophy, but for the moment the Cup is in Geneva, where Mr Bertarelli took it