Please select your home edition
Edition
J Composites 2020 - LEADERBOARD

America's Cup: "They were trying to put bullet proof vests on us" - Butterworth

by Shirley Robertson 9 Jun 05:44 PDT 9 June 2021
Brad Butterworth at the Media Conference following the loss of the America's Cup in 2010 © Richard Gladwell



Shirley Robertson's guest this month is one of the most successful tacticians of the modern era. From the America's Cup to the Whitbread, the Admirals Cup to the Sydney Hobart, New Zealand's Brad Butterworth has been at the sharp end of competitive sailing for his entire adult life, and has a grand prix sailing CV few could match.

The duo sat down together at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland where Butterworth had been consulting for the official Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. The pair kick things off by discussing various aspects of the 2021 America's Cup, including the adoption of the new Cup Class, the AC75, and Brad's role as mediator between the Challenger and the Defender.

Sailing since his early school days, Butterworth has strong opinions on various aspects of the America's Cup, and as a winner of four consecutive Cups for two different nations, has more back to back race wins than any afterguard member in Cup history, a fact that in 2004 saw him honoured in the America's Cup Hall of Fame. Robertson and Butterworth spend much time discussing this rich Cup history but also talk about his days campaigning with Sir Peter Blake, in the Whitbread Race of 1995, a race that saw 'Steinlager II' dominate the fleet, a fact that had a great effect on the up and coming Butterworth...:

"He's the best seaman I've ever seen, with seamanship skills by far the best, in the world, I would say, and he taught us guys all of what we know today....When he put his (sea)boots on, you paid attention, you'd think 'OK, things are a bit hairy up there', he was very good with the weather, he had the utmost respect from us guys, until the day he died."

With Blake as skipper, and Butterworth one of the watch leaders, "Steinlager II" won all six legs of that 1989-90 Whitbread Race, and still remains the only boat to have ever done so. In 1998 Brad Butterworth joined the crew of Larry Ellison's Sayonara to sail in the Sydney to Hobart race, taking line honours in an addition that would become synonymous with tragedy and loss of life. Six sailors were lost as the one hundred and fifteen strong fleet were battered by unprecedented storms on the 630 mile course.

"It's a hard thing for them to do but they should have cancelled it, or delayed it, by two days would have made a huge difference. But it was a beautiful day sailing out of Sydney Heads, a full on Sydney farewell, and then that night that southerly buster came in and just got worse and worse. And then the wind gear blew off the top of the tree at seventy two knots, it took us four hours to put the storm jib on, the sea state was so bad"

The vast majority of Butterworth's career though has been spent in pursuit of the America's Cup. A winner twice for New Zealand, in 1995 and in 2000, Butterworth famously defected to the Swiss team Alinghi for New Zealand's next defence of the Cup in 2003. Butterworth was a key member of fellow New Zealander Sir Russell Coutt's afterguard at Alinghi, and as the new Swiss syndicate plotted to become the first ever European winner of the Cup, the atmosphere in New Zealand was hostile. Brad's accounts of the animosity targeted at the team while in New Zealand fully reflect just how important the Cup is to the sporting obsessed nation of five million sailing fans.

"It was crazy, it was madness, they were trying to put bullet proof vests on us when we towed out, he (Coutts) had protection, I had protection, a lot of the guys, Kiwis, had protection....they started a movement called Blackheart, which was a great name, for a group that hated us guys. It got out of control. They tried to make it as hard as they possibly could to live here and compete."

As an insight into the behind the scenes goings on at the highest level of our sport, this two part podcast is a fascinating discussion with one of the most candid, high level names in sailing. From nationality rules to classes of boat through to race formats and court cases, all told from the perspective of a man who openly admits few people would ever call him diplomatic.

This edition of the podcast is in two parts and is available to listen to via the podcast page of Shirley’s own website, at www.shirleyrobertson.com/podcast or via most popular podcast outlets, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast and aCast.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Related Articles

Team NZ Board Chair hits back at media claims
Tindall responds angrily to claims he is offside with the team's plans for its fourth Cup Defence. Sir Stephen Tindall, the recently resigned Chairman of the Board of Team New Zealand has responded angrily to media claims that his retirement is "proof positive" he is offside with the team's plans for its fourth Cup Defence. Posted on 14 Jun
Suzanne McFadden wins supreme sports award
Suzanne McFadden has been instrumental in the upsurge in coverage of women's sport Leading America's Cup correspondent, Suzanne McFadden has been instrumental in the upsurge in coverage of women's sport in this country and was recently named New Zealand sport journalist of the year. She looks back at her career in this podcast with YNZ. Posted on 14 Jun
America's Cup: Board Chairman Tindall exits ETNZ
Sir Stephen Tindall is retiring as Chairman and Director of the Board of Emirates Team Sir Stephen Tindall is retiring as Chairman and Director of the Board of Emirates Team New Zealand after a long and successful tenure as Director of the four times America's Cup winning team. Posted on 4 Jun
Cup holders tightlipped on $100m package rejection
Emirates Team NZ have refused to comment specifically on media reports of a $100million package clai Emirates Team NZ have refused to comment specifically on media reports of a $100million package claimed to have been rejected by the team. In a later story the Auckland Mayor has elaborated on the previously unattributed claims. Posted on 2 Jun
America's Cup: PJ on 50 years of commentary
PJ Montgomery has commentated all the major yachting events involving NZ the last 50 years Peter Montgomery is known internationally as the Voice of the America's Cup. He has commentated on the last 13 editions, starting in 1980, of the America's Cup including live commentary on every America's Cup race in which New Zealand has competed. Posted on 24 May
America's Cup: Defender rebuffs NYYC overtures
The America's Cup Defenders and Challenger of Record have rebuffed NYYC's Challenge Unsurprisingly, the America's Cup Defenders, along with the Challenger of Record, have rebuffed the surprise Challenge lodged by the New York Yacht Club, on May 6, and announced earlier today. Posted on 9 May
Gladwell's Line: Pressing ignition on pro-sailing
The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage by COVID The sail racing world is spluttering back into life after over 12 months of being hostage to the COVID pandemic - here's a look at how SailGP and the America's Cup coped, plus the 2024 Olympic event quandary. Posted on 6 May
American Magic ready to sail with 7-8 days notice
American Magic's Terry Hutchinson says they are all ready to go sailing at 7-8 days notice American Magic's Terry Hutchinson says the AC36 Challenger are all packed and ready to go sailing at 7-8 days notice, if the next venue is Auckland, otherwise they will head back to the USA. Posted on 3 May
SailGP Bermuda: Dramatic onboard collision video
Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP on Leg 3 of Race 4 of Day 2 of SailGP Bermuda. Nathan Outteridge describes how it unfolded. Posted on 26 Apr
ACHof: Induction of Peter Montgomery and Ed Baird
America's Cup Hall of Fame: Induction of Peter Montgomery and Ed Baird On March 19, 2021, just a couple of days after the Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the America's Cup, the America's Cup Hall of Fame held an Induction Ceremony to welcome broadcaster PJ Montgomery and America's Cup winner Ed Baird Posted on 22 Apr
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTER