Posts Tagged ‘Russell Coutts’
We’re fortunate to have made some very intelligent friends over the decade or so we’ve been working for Sailing Anarchy, and when they ask us serious questions about our reporting, we listen. So when we got an email a couple of months ago about the tone of some of our America’s Cup editorials from one of the top people at a highly respected team, our ears perked up – partly because this dude is almost frighteningly smart and extremely respectful, and partly because his questions were reasonable and not defensive. He agreed that much of our criticism of the ridiculous delays and the lack of transparency in the AC was accurate, but asked me if ‘killing the event with negativity is really a step forward?’ He also challenged me to ‘explain what changes in the AC would encourage us that things are changing?’
With the full competitor lineup about to be released during today’s dog-and-pony in London, it’s time for me to answer his questions.
Q) Is negative criticism or ‘killing the event with negativity’ a step forward?
A) Whether criticism is a ‘step forward’ is irrelevant; we don’t work for the America’s Cup and we have no duty to ‘move the AC forward’; this is similar to the criticism we’ve gotten for writing about regattas that allow littering in the sea and for writing about classes that are being run into the ground, and our answer is always the same: We are firm believers in transparency, and to us, letting the sailing public know what is really going on behind the scenes is always a step forward, especially over the long term, and even more especially when reality is shrouded in secrecy and bullshit.
We advocated for and applauded the move to catamarans when the majority of the world’s sailing publications were shrieking tradition and sacrilege – actually, we’ve been asking for it since about 2003. We approved of the format for AC34 and prayed for a great venue like San Francisco. And we lauded the beautifully sorted and widely available coverage for the most exciting regatta in sailing history. But we could not remain quiet in the face of the mounting fuckups while ACAlphabet paraded their stunning incompetence in front of the world. That’s what the other publications did, and if no one questions the bullshit, it will always be repeated. We’d prefer not to see an AC35 with the same problems as AC34: Woefully low North American ratings and broadcast pickup, failure to meet any of the in-person audience/SF occupancy/ACOC sponsorship raising goals, a fatal accident whose cause has – until today – still not been properly reported on, safety rules that changed the outcome of the event, and a venue that feels lied to and abused by the sport of sailing.
What my friend was really asking was “do we understand that our negativism is actually hurting the America’s Cup?” My answer is very simple: That’s not our problem. We didn’t cheat. We didn’t fuck up the broadcast deal. We didn’t cut the promotional budget to pieces halfway through the cycle. We didn’t make up a bunch of ridiculous projections for the SF government and fail to get close to them.. And we certainly didn’t cover up the cause of death of a famous sailor. So quit blaming us.
Q) What moves would encourage you that things are changing?
A) As we’ve said ten million times, lack of transparency is one of the sport’s biggest problems. It’s got its own language, complicated and esoteric rules, centuries of history and tradition, and is mostly run – at least in America – by a cultish bunch of odd rich people in archaic clothing. AC33 had the potential to change all that in huge ways, yet it failed spectacularly, and somehow, the guy responsible has never even acknowledged his abject failure or explained how he will prevent the exact same failures from happening again. That’s what we would need to see in order to think about getting behind the next AC – a little openness and honesty instead of the same old back room deals that have governed the America’s Cup for a century. So when you are watching the press conference today, consider the following questions that we’d like answered; get us that, and we’ll believe that times are changing. And consider the fact that, for four years, Russell Coutts has consistently refused to sit down for an interview with the world’s most widely read sailing website. There’s only one explanation for that: Fear.
WHY DID BART DIE?
As we’ve said over and over, we’re not at all happy that there still has not been a single official comment on the cause of the accident that led to Andrew Simpson’s death, and we frankly don’t understand it. We remember Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna’s death all too well, and while the public investigation process was not an easy one, it’s amazing to us that AC organizers did not insist on even the most basic investigation or transparency for Andrew Simpson’s cause of death. The Senna case resulted in a finding against Williams co-founder Patrick Head after a massive investigation that included a 600-page analysis of the crash; while Head would never go to jail for his ‘omitted control’ culpability, at least the Italian courts provided closure for hundreds of millions of Senna fans around the world.
We know that Artemis Racing conducted their own investigation into Simpson’s death, yet no one we’ve met will admit to seeing it. We know the Coast Guard had a think about it too. And we know that the San Francisco police are required to investigate any death. Yet when we asked the America’s Cup where those documents were, they had no answer, and that’s ridiculous. These reports should have been required by ACRM to be released to the public, and an open inquiry into the design, build, and management of Big Red – and the responsibility for her failure – should have been undergone immediately after the accident. We don’t blame Artemis for the silence – they have good reason to be quiet. But the event’s organizers have a duty to do more if they want to be considered anything but a failure and a joke.
We hate that we’ve had to, but we’ve done a pile of sleuthing ourselves, and thanks to Johntommy Rosas and the America’s Cup Trust, we finally got our hands on the SFPD’s official 86-page investigation into the Artemis accident, and for the first time today, we’re sharing it with the world. We’ll leave the conclusions to you guys, but it’s not brain surgery; as we all knew when he loudly acted like he never said it, Nathan Outteridge’s words to his dad were pretty accurate – the boat ‘folded like a taco’ when it dug the hull in during a bearaway. There wasn’t a pitchpole – according to Artemis design coordinator Adam May’s witness statement, the hull failed. Why did it fail? Is anyone responsible, as they were for Senna, or was it just a non-racing ‘racing incident’? We don’t know, but if the America’s Cup is to be the ‘tier 1 sport’ that Coutts, Ellison, and new AC Commercial Commissioner Dr. Harvey have repeatedly claimed is their goal, it’s time to act like a tier 1 sport, where you investigate deaths and hold people accountable for them.
Until then, the only place in the world you can find the investigation report is right here. Warning: It’s not for the faint of heart.
Why Did AC34 Miss Every Media/Comms/Audience Target?
We’re not going to re-hash this one – we’ve done it too many times. The dismal ratings are public knowledge, as was NBC’s refusal to pick up the final races for a national broadcast audience – even when the comeback was in full swing. But Russell Coutts has somehow not been called to the carpet to explain this abject failure. Were they the wrong targets? Is it impossible to make sailing a mainstream sport in America? We’d all like to know.
What Happened To Continuity?
Coutts told us a dozen times that one of the AC’s big issues is continuity; that it’s incredibly tough to run a commercially viable sports league when it isn’t owned by a reliable group. This is surely true, and Coutts’ solution the last time around was a financial windfall of several million dollars for the winner of the AC if they maintained some part of the AC event management structure he planned in AC34.
Yet when Oracle won, there was no continuity. Near as we can tell, there was no management; just Russell and a couple of trusted advisors secretly shopping venues around and trying to create a bit of a bidding war. The incredible action we saw in San Francisco? Forgotten. The ‘reliable pro-sports league’? Gone. Instead we have a year of silence while all the excitement fades into the background, and we’re right back on the same old Coutts train. And we’d like to get off it.
If you would too, start asking the AC folks the same questions we have, and don’t let up. Hit them over here and over here. If Russell Coutts or his new commercial chief are serious about what they claim, they’ll answer.
But if all the talk is bullshit and smokescreen, designed to cover up the fact that Coutts’ job is really to win the Cup and neither he nor Larry gives a shit about the rest of it, they’ll continue to say nothing, admit nothing, and accomplish nothing – besides retaining the Cup, of course.
September 9th, 2014 by admin
Any of you kids thinking about going into professional sailing after college? Do it well, and you just might be able to build a $10M beachside mansion like Sir Russell Coutts! Check it out; according to the NZ Herald, Coutts’ contractors have just finished their demolition of the three houses on Tindall Beach in North Auckland to make the property ready for Sir Russell’s 5-bedroom, 6-bath, 667 square meter (7200 s.f.) home. This goes into a Coutts’ real estate portfolio that includes apartments in Auckland and homes and farmland in Otago; he ain’t Larry Ellison, but not too bad for a 52 year old sailor…
July 7th, 2014 by admin
The Bermuda Sun didn’t take kindly to our analysis of potential AC35 venues last week, devoting half a page of text to Sailing Anarchy’s ‘naiveté’ in criticizing the tiny island as an America’s Cup venue. The Sun’s confidence comes in part thanks to a single source they cite; a retired sailing coach named Paul Doughty, the Bermuda media’s go-to guy for quotes. ”Sailing Anarchy…have no idea what this tiny island gave the sailing world,” said Doughty.
We do, in fact, know what Bermuda gave the sailing world, Mr. Doughty. But your island’s 17th century contribution to upwind sailing has precisely fuck-all to do with the logic of holding an AC in Bermuda, especially one held by a US-based team. Doughty says “I think it would be a tremendous shot in the arm for Bermuda…In terms of world exposure, it’s massive. Every single yacht club in Europe would see us and the incredible place that we sail in.”
You know what, coach? It would be incredible for the economy of, say, Haiti, if FIA decided to hold a Formula One race there. The whole world would see how pretty it is – imagine the world exposure! But it’s still a stupid fucking idea.
So listen up, all you dicks in those stupid shorts and socks: Sailing Anarchy likes Bermuda just fine. It’s a pretty island with good sailing conditions (once you get there, at least!) and a great lagoon. But it’s also got a British culinary culture, some of the most over-priced goods anywhere, and is right in Hurricane Alley. And with just 60,000 inhabitants, a Bermuda AC would be a luxurious but very, very quiet affair – perfect for Louis Vuitton to get back on the scene, anyway.
More importantly, if Bermuda is picked as a Cup venue, it will be an outright admission by the folks running the AC of something that we already know, and an indicator of something far worse: Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts’ stated mission before AC34 – transforming the Cup into a worldwide brand with sustainable commercial appeal to a worldwide audience – has failed. Choosing a major US city might mean Coutts is giving it another try, but a Bermuda Cup would mean that they’ve all given up, and that the AC is, indeed, solely for the super rich. And of course, for 60,000 Bermudans. For everyone else, there’s Youtube.
What were we saying about Chicago again?
June 25th, 2014 by admin
We’re still a few days (and a transpacific flight or two) away from the comprehensive SA “Report Card” on the 34th America’s Cup. It will perhaps not surprise or amaze you, but it will lay out the reality behind the event, without qualifications or a worry that somehow Sailing Anarchy will be excluded from future Cups for being honest in front of a massive audience. In the meantime, Pierre over at Vsail continues to be run one of the few sailing publications unafraid to tell it like it really is, and here’s a portion of his own solid analysis of what went right and what went wrong in San Francisco.
Does Larry Ellison really want an America’s Cup with many challengers?
Despite Larry Ellison’s own statements as back as February 2010 and Russell Coutts’ frequent claims, the 34th America’s Cup wasn’t conceived and implemented in order to attract a great number of competing teams. We will not go once again into the details of the high costs, enormous complexity and mind-boggling logistical needs of the AC72 boats, these aspects have been exhaustively covered by this and many other sailing and mainstream media. If Ellison truly wanted to have 12 challengers and 3 defenders, he could have easily done it in the three and a half years since his victory in Valencia in February 2010. The end result was that only three challengers were able to afford the necessary costs to mount a credible challenge and one of them, Artemis Racing, had no interest whatsoever in the commercial and media return of the event since they were entirely privately funded.
Having just two challengers with serious commercial interests makes it much easier for any defender, in general, and Larry Ellison in particular. He’s only goal was and is to retain the America’s Cup, not to organize a challenger selection series with 12 teams, avoiding a great deal of headaches that come with that. The less, the merrier. We can’t see why it will be different this time.
The question is of course whether it really matters if there are 2 or 12 challengers. The America’s Cup was never meant to be a a “big” TP52 circuit. Each one has its own place in the sport of sailing and the America’s Cup isn’t meant to be for everybody, even if they can afford it! Take for example Niklas Zennström, the founder of Skype. He’s an avid sailor, his fortune could eventually allow him to fund a Cup campaign and he spends a lot of money in his TP52 and Mini-Maxi 72 campaigns, nearly 7 million euros per year! Yet he’s not interested in the America’s Cup because he wants to helm his boat, not write checks and watch her from the dock. Other, equally wealthy businessmen, prefer to race in the RC44 class.
Bob and Sandy Oatley, the father and son billionaires from Australia and Challenger of Record, stated a couple of days ago they would like to see a significant reduction in costs so that more teams can enter but then again it’s up to Larry Ellison to decide the future. Vincenzo Onorato, Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup, agreed with Ellison’s protocol because he thought Ellison would also fund his campaign. When he saw that he wouldn’t get a single euro from the American billionaire he withdrew since he was unable to find the necessary funding for Mascalzone Latino. This shows that the Challenger of Record doesn’t have a say in shaping the event and Larry Ellison doesn’t seem to bother if the challenger he chose withdraws…
However, one thing that Larry Ellison’s organization should refrain from doing again this time is to embark on a PR campaign preaching their desire to have “multiple” challengers while at the same time doing everything possible in order not to have more than a handful.
October 9th, 2013 by admin
And if Bangin’ doesn’t crack you up, a new Hitler AC video is always good for a laugh.
September 12th, 2013 by admin
Like everyone else in the entire world, we’re amazed at just how pathetic the Louis Vuitton Cup ‘racing’ has been. And with Ainslie’s rudder snapping clean off in Defender trials, the home team is no better than the visitors. Listen above to hear Mr. Clean sum it up well, as recorded live this morning with D’arcy Waldegrave on Radio Sports NZ.
Meanwhile, remember we told you Oracle was threatening to protest Luna Rossa and ETNZ for ‘trespass’? As much as it sounds like it, we weren’t joking.
As a final sum-up for the ‘summer of racing’ thus far, here’s a good look at the what, the why, and the how of the AC72 debacle including an interview with a rapidly aging Russell Coutts, from our friends at the good ship Outside Mag. Thanks to Kahlessa for the find, and don’t forget to spend a few hours with the America’s Cup Anarchy forums if you’re looking for the best Cup discussion on the web.
August 20th, 2013 by admin