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America's Cup- PJ Montgomery talks to Brad Butterworth on NewstalkZB

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com on 25 Apr 2009
Clearly there is still not a lot of love lost between the Alinghi skipper, Brad Butterworth and the Team NZ CEO, Grant Dalton Chris Cameron/ETNZ© http://www.chriscameron.co.nz

Newstalk ZB's Peter Montgomery interviewed Alinghi skipper, Brad Butterworth, this afternoon just after 1500hrs NZT, focussing mainly on the meeting held in Geneva on Thursday to discuss the upcoming Match between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing.

The following is a very rough transcription of the interview, or you can hear the full version by http://www.newstalk.co.nz/thisweek/hourrecs/Sat,%20Apr%2025%2015.00%20trn-newstalk-zb-akl.asf!clicking_here

PJ: We're on target for giant multihulls sometime next year.

PJ: Was there any effort to get consensus among the parties?

BB: Yes, old friends and we sat around the table and very amicable even though two sides a long ways apart.

PJ: why didn't you accept Oracle's multi-challenger offer?

BB: Devil's in the details. They didn't think a lot of things through before coming to the meeting. We are a long way apart. Both these guys have paid money to build these multihulls, so best to move on and see who wins.

PJ: I was surprised no Ernest Bertarelli, no Larry Ellison no Russell Coutts.

BB: Well, you know Ernesto's been trying to get Larry to meet since the last court case. Hopefully that will still happen.

PJ: What about Tom Ehman? And Grant Dalton told both TV3 and TVNZ that it's ridiculous and that you are the villain in all this.

BB: It's all very easy for Grant to talk that way. Well, it wasn't very long ago that he sued us then dropped it so we would come race in his own regatta. I mean, he hasn't helped the whole situation, and until the current management of TNZ step aside and get some people in there who can build a new multihull -- we'd allow more time for that. They gotta look forward and get a better management in there.

PJ: So what happens now, just the two of you. What about the Courts vs. the Deed on the date? Could this go back to court?

BB: I think it's up to Oracle whether it goes back to court. Two northern hemisphere clubs involved, and you can't race until May. Why argue over six week -- let's get on with it. We've been forced to do both sides of the game (MCMC in VLC) and DoG. So we have just about built our boat; we might as well sail it.

PJ: But are you apprehensive that BMW ORACLE have had their boat in the water a long time, and they're ironing out all the wrinkles, they are ahead of you there.

BB: Yes I think they are; but let's get on with it. Personally I am tired of the whole procedure. Only three races, but maybe we can get some mutual consent with them on some more races. But at the end of that cycle the winner can get on with the thing. The Cup lives from one cycle to the next. This one's been a bit turbulent.

PJ: You've been try to flag, to anyone who would listen, that if Oracle won in court this is what would happen. Where will this leave the other challengers, aside from Dalton and TNZ. Are you going to burn off other challengers?

BB: In the end, you got an underlying commitment and responsibility to deal with every challenge you get. You gotta deal with that one (ours) on its merit. They've built a big multi, and we gotta deal with. Sure we'd like to have multi-challenge, but it just hasn't worked out. [Attacks Dalton again for sitting on the fence, lack of leadership.] They just made things worse. Now we're going to race one on one and will be pretty exciting.

PJ: Is it even remotely possible another challenger could join Oracle, and when will you race?

BB: We should race in May and get on with it. Will be only a week. There have been some interest from French interests that have boats that size. A few of these teams could make it there for a challenger series. We're open to that Yes, we would push it back.

PJ: How long?

BB: Well, we'd see how many challengers we'd get.

PJ: Is this what you would like to happen, or think will happen?

BB: Two teams have built boats and will race early next year. Just a matter of when.

PJ: By May at the latest?

BB: Yes, unless there are more teams involved in which case we push it out later. I hope -- I think -- it will be over by May next year.

PJ: Then what? Multiple monohulls?

BB: Well hopefully, but unless the Deed is changed this could happen every time. Just depends who gets a little frustrated or upset with losing.

PJ: This is frustrating. Now the fans are getting turned off.

BB: Yes, I'm the same. Is totally foreign to what I am used to. The past has been very exciting, and this has made the sport shrink a bit. Some of the media haven't helped; there's a bit of a redneck part of it in the States that sees it one way or the highway. George Bush mutual consent. A bit of a joke. Sometimes you have to step back and laugh at it.

PJ: After all we said the last ten minutes or so, what do we look for?

BB: We hope to have another meeting with Oracle in two weeks or so and try to thrash out the rest of the mutual consent side of it. Hopefully there will be a few more teams.... We gotta move forward with what we gotta do. We are flat out trying to build this boat and put it in the water and it will be something quite special really.

PJ: How special?

BB: Well I think state of the art. they'll be like nothing else that's been around. All the best multihull guys are involved with both team. It's gonna be exciting.

PJ: That's the flip side. AC community are aggrieved and upset, but then there's a lot of people around the world fascinated by these two giants the sailing worlds never seen anything like them.

BB: That's right. Just being a party to some of the meetings, not all of them, the two sides have been at loggerheads for two years. This is away out of it. We've just about finished our boat, they've built there's, let's have a yacht race and get on with it so hopefully there's a way for everyone to join in in the future.

PJ: That's Brad Butterworth talking from Geneva. We have tried very very hard to get Russell Coutts and were making connection with his media people, and I know Russell wants to talk to us with us but he is busy in Sardinia.

However, there is a possibility we may try and connect with Russell on the phone this evening, and if so he will be on SportsWorlds tomorrow. We haven't given up.

We know it is vital to have both sides of the story, not just Brad Butterworth's point of view. But we need Russell to give his point of view. We're sorry we have not been able to get him yet. We were told yesterday that we had him, but in the end that has not happened.
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