"I never ever mooned Larry Ellison"
In his own words, Hasso Plattner recalls what happened at the 1996 Kenwood Cup, when his maxi Morning Glory lost its rig. As Larry Ellison has often told it, Plattner mooned his business and sporting rival as Ellison, on board his maxi Sayonara, was sailing by. Plattner has vehemently denied this. Here is his version of the events that day in Hawaii."We had a business meeting and he told me he was building a maxi yacht, must be 1994 or '95. My maxi, Morning Glory, came a year later, and from 1996 on we raced against each other. We were racing [at the Kenwood Cup in 1996] and we had a bad first race. Then we had a win in the second and we were about to win the next one and we would've been in the lead¿we were faster, we felt we were faster. I was sailing against [Chris] Dickson, but with Russell [Coutts]'s help. But I steered the whole time¿Dickson was steering Sayonara¿and our mast came down. It was the last tack before the windward mark, probably five boatlengths in front of the windward mark, and the whole s--t comes down. "Sayonara was at that point probably 10 boatlengths behind us because we had a nice little America's Cup start¿we were both late. They had to jibe and nearly hit a spectator boat. We are the second to last boat over the line and they are the last boat over the line. But we were faster than all the other ones. Then it happened. That was probably the turning point. Until then, I tried to have a normal relationship with [Larry]. We had high waves in Hawaii, typical Kenwood Cup waves, our mast is broken at the second spreader. Somebody goes up in the mast, a French dentist, and cuts and cuts and cuts half of his thumb off. So he comes down, it's bleeding¿I still remember Matthew [Mason] saying, "Don't look at it. Don't look at it." We had another dentist on board and within less than a minute they had the needles and the yarn out¿because when a dentist loses a thumb they¿re done. So they were stitching the thumb together. The fourth spreader was still banging against the hull so everybody was focused on that. Then we secured the mast, cut the other stuff; this happened unbelievably quickly."Sayonara sailed by, looked at us. You know how sailors are when you see a mishap of somebody else. First you calculate that they¿re [out of the race] and you're ahead and you get a first and they get a did not finish. So that's probably in their faces and they just sail by and they¿re gone. Larry and his whole crew is gone. We start the engine and the engine doesn't engage. The pin is broken and we are without engine. And now the boat is tumbling in the waves. The mast is secured, but we can't move. So there are tenders and we ask for help. We ask the shore base. A tender will be out, but it will take half an hour. A small tender comes, but it can't take us in the waves, we are too heavy. Here comes Oracle's tender. Goes around and around. We make all the signals, 'C¿mon pick us up, give us a tow.' We communicated to them they should not tow us into the harbor, just tow us into the wind so we could clean up the rest and then our tender would come and pick us up and get us home. They didn't react. They didn't react. They circled us probably twice. Then I made the official signal. There's 20 people working and still cleaning up things, I do this here [waves outstretched arms vertically]. They take a video camera and do another round and videotape. When they come the last time from the stern, to take a nice shot from behind. I lowered my pants. I said: 'If you have to have this on your video, when you go home you should feel s--tty about what you did.' There is a yacht with 22 people out and we have a serious problem. We have an injury, we don't know the amount of the injury. But we had blood on the whole boat, we have no engine and we have high waves. They disappear, so we give them some nice America four-letter words and then a big boat came and it took us one and a half hours to get back in the harbor because we had to go slowly the mast banging. We put everything we had between the mast and the hull. So we go home, the race is over, we are done. "Years later I read in the Wall Street Journal that I mooned Larry Ellison. I write to the Wall Street Journal this is not true and they have to redo this. My advisors say: 'No, don't get involved with the Wall Street Journal, it'll only get worse and everybody will pick up the story.' I made the mistake and gave in. Then it quieted off and then Larry Ellison brought it up in interviews again, two times. In German, when he came to Germany, he made snide comments¿one comment was my ass looked so awful that he feared about the mental health of his crew when he sailed by. Another story was that I was so pissed when we lost the race and the World Championships in Sardinia in 1997 in Italy that I came by his boat and mooned him. The day when this should've happened, he had already left, because he didn't race the last race because he was not there. They were moored inside, we were moored outside. We never went by him. So now again I ask my lawyers, 'Shall I do something?' and they said, 'Let it die down.'"I met him in Italy and I said, 'Larry, why are you doing this?'"'I'm not doing anything. I don't know what you're talking about. You never mooned me. I never saw anything.'"I said, 'Larry, who is writing this s--t?'"'I don't know, I will take care of it.'"And then he did it a third time. So that's Larry Ellison. Everything has been said. Therefore I would never enter an America's Cup and sail against him. I do this for fun. What I don't understand is that he put this in a business context and so I think this is an absolute scandal. And then I ask again my lawyers, 'I'll make a statement under oath. I never ever mooned Mr. Larry Ellison, nor his Sayonara crew.' And isn't that enough? Is there anybody in the world who believes in me? I have 22 quotes signed by the whole crew, half of them the Black Magic [NZL-32] crew, that it was not Sayonara, it was the tender. Sayonara was long gone. There was no reason. I had nothing with Larry Ellison. He couldn't help it, he was racing by, he says, 'Good Bye! Thank you for letting us through.' I didn't expect any help from them. But we expected help from any of shore crew. And not taking video. That made me really upset."