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Controversy Fuels the Cup

Published on October 10th, 2012

Remember the good old days, when public interest in the America’s Cup was as much about the racing as it was about the sound bites from Dennis Conner, Ted Turner, or Tom Blackhaller? They’re back.

Coutts, the mastermind behind the format for next year’s America’s Cup, has admitted he made a mistake with the AC72 class rule and now revealed he even tried to scale back the size of the boat late last year.

The Oracle chief executive claims his efforts to revise the design of the wingsail catamarans when it became apparent other teams were struggling with the costs and complexity of the project were blocked by Team New Zealand counterpart Dalton.

But, in what is sure to bring simmering tensions between the two teams to boiling point, Dalton has fired back at Coutts, accusing the four-time Cup winner of trying to “spin his way out of trouble”.

Coutts said he broached the topic of moving to a smaller scale boat at a competitors meeting in San Diego in November last year, but the idea was immediately rejected by Dalton.

“Quite a few of the teams were in favour of this, particularly the ones that were struggling financially. Do you know who opposed that? Team New Zealand. And now they’re complaining about how difficult it is.”

But Dalton has rejected Coutts’ account of events, and believes the Oracle chief executive is trying to use Team New Zealand as a scapegoat for his own poor planning.

“(The proposal to change the class rule) was nothing more than a statement made at a closed meeting so that one day when the wheels start falling off he can use it as an excuse,” said Dalton.

“He was proposing that we all scrap three well-advanced boats, and start again. It is one of the biggest concessions of defeat I’ve ever heard.”

With this latest spat following a stand-off between Team New Zealand and America’s Cup event organisers this week over a decision to abandon development of the team bases on piers 30-32, it appears the rare period of peace in the sport is coming to an end.

Dalton said he was becoming frustrated at the continual back-tracking from the event’s organisers. “There are a chain of things that aren’t being produced as promised.”

Coutts, meanwhile, suggests Dalton “is only happy if he’s having a grumble about something”.

Don’t expect to see these Kiwis sharing a slice of Pavlova anytime soon.

Source: NZ Herald


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