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America's Cup - Coutts coy about picking a Cup favorite

by Bernie Wilson, AP on 12 May 2017
Sir Russell Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority America's Cup
The America’s Cup trials start two weeks from Friday on Bermuda’s Great Sound, and the man in charge of sailing’s marquee regatta doesn’t believe there’s an overwhelming favorite, not even two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA.

Russell Coutts has been watching practice races between the 50-foot, foiling catamarans. He said he’s impressed with Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing of Sweden, SoftBank Team Japan and Emirates Team New Zealand, the hard-luck loser in the 2013 America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.

“I actually don’t think there is a clear favorite right now,” Coutts, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority, said in a recent phone interview. “I think it’s really close between these teams.”

Coutts won the America’s Cup three times as a skipper — for two different countries — and twice as CEO of Oracle Team USA, which is owned by Larry Ellison, one of the world’s richest men. Coutts remains CEO of Oracle Team USA, although he said his role is limited to overseeing the team’s budget while general manager Grant Simmer and skipper Jimmy Spithill run the day-to-day operations.

Oracle has capsized twice in the last month, most recently on Wednesday . No one’s been injured and the team said damage was minimal.

The other two teams in the trials are Britain’s Land Rover BAR, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor in history, and Groupama Team France.

Coutts said that while Land Rover BAR is among the best at manoeuvring the fast, wing-sailed catamarans, it has a speed problem.

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