The nationalism inherent in the above reminded me of this article, dated June 22nd:
Sailing: Alinghi chief rides the waves of his America's Cup revolution
By Christopher Clarey
Friday, June 22, 2007
Ernesto Bertarelli is an exception to the America's Cup rule that challengers, wealthy or not, have to pay their dues. The Australian Alan Bond challenged three times before finally wresting the cup away from the Americans, in 1983 in Newport, Rhode Island. The New Zealanders, led first by the merchant banker Michael Fay, challenged three times before getting it right in a big way in 1995 in San Diego.
But Bertarelli took a clever, controversial shortcut to the top: He hired the best helmsman in the game, Russell Coutts - at Team New Zealand's expense - and then won it all with Alinghi on his first attempt, in 2003 - also at Team New Zealand's expense.
Bertarelli, an Italian-born Swiss, even sailed in the boat, and he will be back on board this time at age 41, without Coutts. One of the world's wealthier men, Bertarelli has had more than usual on his plate since the last Cup, selling his family's biotechnology company, Serono, for a reported $13.3 billion while remaining active with Alinghi and the planning of its America's Cup defense against Grant Dalton's Emirates Team New Zealand.
Bertarelli recently spoke with Christopher Clarey at Alinghi's base in Valencia, Spain.
There were so many strong emotions surrounding the Cup last time. Is this time more of a sailboat race?
Well, certainly it has been that way for the last few years and just more recently, and, surprisingly so, Team New Zealand has engaged in some of the rhetoric and the old demons of the past. They are starting to speak again about nationality rules and stuff like that, and some Kiwis are going back to some behaviors. Obviously, it's less than last time because we're not in New Zealand, so it's a little bit unfortunate they don't embrace a more international approach, a more open approach to the sport. Especially enforcing a nationality rule, when three-quarters of their sponsors are international sponsors, is surprising to me. I don't know. Maybe it's the pressure of the match and maybe it's a glimpse into what I thought was a new team with a new approach to the game of sailing.
You sound disappointed and surprised.
I'm surprised because you know Grant Dalton managed to raise the capital required for his team from international sponsors. Alinghi could say the same thing. Alinghi could say we'll allow only national sponsors to sponsor the boat and suddenly he [Dalton] will not have any money to compete. It's the sort of thing you put forward as a show of weakness rather than strength. Why would you put restrictions on people to compete next time? So I would say it's very, very disappointing. On legal advice, we canceled the existing trustee interpretation and we provided a new protocol without restriction of nationality for sailors or designers, which had been the position for the vast majority of the history of the Cup.
How did it happen that you lent money to Team New Zealand in the early stages of its campaign?
Because we were in contact with several teams through America's Cup Management, we knew that he was struggling in putting together his budget and just helped him because I felt it was just right to have Team New Zealand in the Cup. They had been a big part of this event over the years, starting in Australia in Perth and obviously in San Diego, so I felt it would be a shame not to have Team New Zealand, just basically for, I guess, love for the sport, having as many strong teams as possible.
In sailing terms last time, the New Zealanders had their problems against you. How do you see their team this time? They have brought two Americans, tactician Terry Hutchinson and navigator Kevin Hall, into their afterguard.
Exactly. I don't know what Grant is telling his tactician when he's talking about nationality rules. I think they are a lot more focused on the sailing and a bit less on the design and I think it's certainly a better balance. They also have the benefit of the Louis Vuitton and the pre-regattas to make sure that if they had done any early mistakes, they'd be spotted and corrected. So I think it's going to be a much more solid team, even though last time I think they had a couple of unfortunate things happen to them, mainly as a result of their boat building.
I think they had some very clever people and some very good ideas. It just didn't work as they planned.
When asked how different Alinghi is without Russell Coutts, Dean Phipps and some other members of your crew said, "Very different." What's your feeling?
He's a very strong sailor, so what we tried not to do was to try to replace him because no one is replaceable. We tried to build a team around people who were there last time and have done a step forward and filled the void.
How has Brad Butterworth taken to his new role of skipper?
I think he is doing very well, again with a very different style, but he's without a doubt the leader of the team. He's the one individual we can't afford to miss on the boat this time. He's a brilliant tactician and a brilliant skipper, so we were fortunate to have him step up and fill part of the void left by Russell, but other people did as well step up and contribute.
Terry Hutchinson said the other day that Alinghi is very strong and has great technological strengths, but what he likes about his team is that the helmsman, Dean Barker, has been there before in the America's Cup and your guy, be it Ed Baird or Peter Holmberg, has not. How would you respond to that?
I think we might have more people who have been there more times in the America's Cup than any other team and certainly more than Team New Zealand. It is correct that our helmsman has not helmed in the America's Cup but has helmed in numerous venues. Both of our helmsmen, as a matter of fact. And possibly that's our strength: the fact that we have two helmsmen who have a great deal of experience and are both very strong with very different styles. So a race is not won at the start. It's won at the finish, and what's important is to finish in front.
The start is very important, clearly, but it's not the end of the race, and we're looking forward to meeting Dean. We have met in the past and he's certainly not someone we should fear more than anybody else.
There are lots of different approaches to being a defender. Why this approach of keeping it open with the crew announcement until the end?
I think one thing we don't have that over the years people have had is a defender series, and I think history has underestimated the importance of those defender series, which at the time were in the favor of the American side. I think being excluded from the competition, even for a seemingly short time, like two months or a month and a half, is very relevant because all things being said, that's probably our biggest weakness: the fact we did not sail the Louis Vuitton and are possibly less prepared to go in the America's Cup. It's a big advantage of the challenger to have had to go through all the hoops of getting there.
What is your business analysis of where things are with this Cup?
When we won the America's Cup, in 2003, when we received the account of the regattas, there was 100,000 Kiwi dollars [$75,370, or €56,300] in the account. This time, when the dust settles and we will provide the accounts of the regatta, there will be well north of €30 million, which is going to be distributed to the teams.
Would it have been different if instead of Michel Bonnefous you had hired someone to direct America's Cup Management who was like him, with the same profile and experience, but who was not your good friend? Would that have changed the dynamic and defused some of the criticism of ACM and its management?
I think it would have been very difficult if I didn't have the trust I have in Michel and the ability to sort out things extremely rapidly, because we have known each other for a long time. I think that has been one of the strengths of our relationship, that I could rely on him fully. I had plenty of things to worry about and wake up at night for at the time we started this venture, and he has delivered.
Some team leaders have said that although they admire you, they feel that you were not as constant a presence this time with the sailing team and were in and out on the organization of the Cup itself. Is that accurate?
I wasn't involved much differently than I was involved with the team or the event last time. Last time, I didn't have the event to care about, so obviously that meant a lot more work this time, but I have always believed that delegating to people who can do that on a daily basis, and better than me, is the way to go. I trusted Michel for the event and I trusted Brad Butterworth for the team, and it gave me the opportunity to come in and out of it and therefore care for other things.
Since I sold the company, I obviously have a lot more time and can be a lot more involved, and that's a lot more fun for me than it was before. I wouldn't say that it's much different. I don't want the America's Cup to be my life and be the only thing I do. So If I want to do other things outside the America's Cup, I'm going to have to rely on people to do it for me and possibly do it better than me. In the case of Brad, there is no question: He's a much better sailor than I am. In the case of Michel, he did certainly better than I could have done because he was there full-time, and he has this resilience needed in order to achieve this sort of grand project. We built half a city here. You don't do that if you're not capable of taking a lot of heat.
How is it to be the boss and sail with your employees? Is it a challenge to get them to speak their minds? I think that's a question of personality. I personally don't find it very difficult, because I enjoy going sailing and I enjoy being with the team and just being one of them. So it's not hard, actually. It's fun. I think I'm fortunate that I'm welcome on board.
Will your role be different this time?
I'm still involved with a bit of navigation but will do a bit more physical work this time. We are sailing the boat with one more person this time so there is opportunity to do things differently, obviously. So it's a little different but not too far from the afterguard.
What will you do with the Cup if you win again?
I feel - and we feel - very strongly that there's a lot of anticipation for the cup to stay in Europe. We feel responsible for that now, to keep it growing in what I think for the near future is the best place for the Cup. We need to win in order to achieve that, and we're concentrating on it.
I think it would be difficult to make the same step forward that we've done last time. I think last time was a very, very big step forward, maybe bigger than people actually realize. I think with some perspective people will think of this edition as a revolution in the America's Cup. I hope we can continue this evolution now.
I don't think we need to do a revolution. I think we need to continue this evolution towards achieving the goal, which is to have a sport that can earn its living, meaning that it can pay for itself. Because right now no matter how successful ACM will be - and, again, the net result will be between €30 million and €50 million - that money, if returned to the teams - and it will be returned to the teams - does not cover the costs of the teams. People like me, Larry Ellison, Patrizio Bertelli and a lot of owners and aficionados and real fans of the Cup have to pay for it.
So if we want the sport to be more independent from individuals having to put their own money at stake, we need to get to a point like many international sports where we can generate sufficient revenues before the games.
Do you already know where you are going next time if you win?
I have some ideas, but I can't promise that we'll stay in Valencia, even though it's clear that it's a very, very good place for it.
What about Dubai?
Everything is possible, but the intention is to race again in Europe. We don't rule out Dubai, but there are very few chances.
If you lose, will you challenge again in New Zealand?
I don't know. I'll have to think about it. If Grant continues in the trend of being very insular, I might not decide to go. If he imposes a nationality rule, there's no way Alinghi can and will go to New Zealand, and I think it's the case for a lot of teams.
Is that why you have lots of practice partners, including Luna Rossa?
I don't think there are many people that want to go to New Zealand around this marina besides Grant Dalton.
With the nationality rules?
Or even period. I mean I think we've done that. I love New Zealand, and I really had a great time in the country. I love the people of New Zealand. My sister has a daughter who has a Kiwi passport. My kids are raised by a Kiwi: We have a New Zealander nanny. And you know, I'm very attached emotionally to New Zealand. It was a great experience. I just think for the sport it would be a disaster, especially if the Kiwis already, without having the cup, start speaking about rules in order to prevent people from competing.
There's no incentive to want to go down there for the sport. I would go down there to play golf or to go hiking or just to visit friends, but why would we spend the money we're spending and the efforts we're putting in these teams if we're not welcome?
Your life and background are so international. Perhaps that's why for you nationality matters less than it does for New Zealanders?
Yes, but it's unfortunate that after we helped everyone, including Team New Zealand more than anybody else, participate in an international event, they turn against the hand that feeds them and go back to behavior that was rather shocking down in New Zealand and encourage it around here, whereas we have been more than welcoming.
Clearly, what is fueling their team and their fans is a desire for some form of revenge. It's a big word but the right word here, I think.
Yes, but I thought sportsmanship is what it's all about, isn't it? And revenge on the field, winning on the course, all that is fine. Actually, I wanted to give them the opportunity for that, but the stuff outside the field, it's not welcome. That's not Kiwi-like, in my opinion.
Perhaps they think it wasn't sportsmanlike on your part last time, with Russell Coutts and other Kiwis going to work for you.
Well, Chris Dickson was sailing for BMW Oracle, and a lot of Kiwis went to One World.