Russell Coutts: This isn’t 2013

Published on June 22nd, 2017

As the leader of both the 35th America’s Cup and defender Oracle Team USA, Russell Coutts is under the spotlight in Bermuda. German magazine Yacht met up with Coutts for this interview after his team lost the first four races of the match against challenger Emirates Team New Zealand.

Russell Couts. ©ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Getting skunked.
We have seen so many exciting races in the Challenger Playoffs. It is unfortunate that this is not the case in the finals.

Need for speed.
The guys are working hard on it but it is different than four years ago. At that time I was convinced that Oracle had the better package. They only had to learn to use it optimally and to sail optimally. This time, the kiwis clearly have the better package. It is now about improving the Oracle package as much as possible. But it is a very steep mountain which they have to climb up.

Owner update.
Of course, Larry Ellison would have liked to see his team more successful. But I think he was most disappointed that we did not see better, more exciting races last weekend. We all hoped for a good fight. We hope now that Oracle has made some good changes in the preparation. So far it was rather one-sided.

Kiwi takeover.
I have no doubt that they would do a good job as organizer of the America’s Cup. However, I am not sure that they would take over all parts of the concept. I think good TV broadcasts will be in their interest. They could change the boats if they think that makes it a better event.

Regretful decisions.
I do not feel much regret. For the future I would probably change the boats so that even in winds of 25 knots can be sailed. I do not think you should cancel the race. If one were to take the current boats, they would have to get a smaller rig for this purpose. In addition, these boats do not perform very well in very light winds. They do not look so good. Maybe you could give them a light-wind gennaker or something like that.

Furthermore, we would have more teams from more countries in an ideal world. However, they must be competitive teams with competitive boats. We saw last weekend if a team is not competitive, then that is not good. Apart from that, I believe our overall plan for the 35th America’s Cup is quite good.

Overall Results*
Emirates Team New Zealand (3) vs ORACLE TEAM USA (0)

* Scoreboard: While the Challenger has won all four races, their match score is 3-0. The Defender, which won the Qualifiers held on May 26-June 3, began the series with a one point advantage. As the rules detail, the Challenger would carry a one point disadvantage (ie, minus 1), meaning they will need to win eight races to take the trophy whereas the Defender need only win seven races.

Schedule: The dates of the Match extend from June 17 to 28, though will end earlier when a team scores 7 points. The next race day is June 24 and will continue daily thereafter until there is a winner.

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