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To Valencia and Beyond

In an interview with SW correspondent Bruce Gain, BMW Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts shares his prospects for the 33rd America's Cup and future matches.

December 11, 2009
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BMW Oracle Racing skipper and CEO Russell Coutts speaks at the BMW Oracle Racing Technology Workshop in Munich, Germany.

BMW Oracle Racing skipper and CEO Russell Coutts speaks at the BMW Oracle Racing Technology Workshop in Munich, Germany. Gilles Martin-raget/bmw Oracle Racing

Since you probably won’t be on the boat during the 33rd America’s Cup, what will your involvement be in Valencia?
I’ll be advising on the overall strategy, making decisions, and helping the sailing program where I can. I’ll be flushing out the pros and cons of the various options we can take.

What will you do specifically?
I’m the team leader, so there will be some leadership required, as is all these America’s Cups. There’s always a tremendous amount of pressure.

How would you size up Alinghi as a competitor in the race?
It’ll be a very tough race. Alinghi has built a very good boat, has a great team, and is going to be very hard to beat. We know that. But there are lots of things that can happen between now and February 8, so we have to make some good decisions between now and then.

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How much will depend on wave and wind conditions?
A lot will depend on managing the waves properly and avoiding breakage. If you push the boat too hard, you’ll break it. Besides the wing sail, there are lots of parts of the boat that would be disastrous is they broke. That will all be part of the race.

If BMW Oracle Racing wins in February, what will the 34th America’s Cup be like?
Larry Ellison has already pledged to hand over all the management to an independent body to avoid the conflict of interest. We really want to try to move this forward and get to a platform where it should be.

What kind of boats would you sail?
That all depends on what the teams want. I think it would be irresponsible to make decisions in isolation of the America’s Cup community. We just have to look back at past America’s Cups. They were racing boats that were actually conceived by a large number of the teams, boats that actually lasted for a very long time. I think the same sort of approach should apply in the future. If one person imposes their ideas, it’s unlikely to be successful for the rest of the teams.

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What type of conversations will you have with the challengers?
We’ve had success in the past when a group of challengers got together and developed rules that took into account cost, feasibility, what style of racing you want to have, and so forth. Our preference would be to go back to traditional monohulls, but we’d want to make a more modern version, something faster, like the the boats raced in 1990 and 1992.

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