Russell Coutts Responds to Ernesto Bertarelli
Russell Coutts Responds to Ernesto Bertarelli Decision to Dismiss
Auckland, New Zealand, 27 July 2004: Russell Coutts said today that he had been surprised by Ernesto Bertarelli’s decision to abruptly terminate his contract today.
“I was surprised to receive a brief phone call from Ernesto Bertarelli’s lawyers this evening which was apparently immediately followed by a media release issued by Mr Bertarelli’s staff, “Russell Coutts said.
“The facts are that some time ago I had made it very clear to Ernesto Bertarelli that I had some very real concerns about aspects of his management style and the direction of the team.
“These concerns were based on my experience as a skipper and in a leadership role in my last three America’s Cup campaigns. They centred on aspects of management that I had found in my own leadership experience to be successful.
“In the course of working with him, I was surprised that Ernesto Bertarelli repeatedly made it clear he wanted to depart from our previously agreed commitments.
“Most seriously, I was concerned at the impact of this management style not just on my contract, but on the wider America’s Cup event. I found the role he increasingly insisted I occupy in the syndicate was at considerable variance with the one we had discussed - at length – during and since the last America’s Cup campaign.
“This and other issues were clear breaches of the contract I had entered into with him.
“In an attempt to address these issues we entered into formal mediation and have been in mediation for some time – a process I had understood to be still underway. In light of this, I have been surprised by the way he has first insisted on a rule change and then by his decision to issue my dismissal.
“I believe the retrospective rule change Ernesto Bertarelli engineered is indicative of the management style he favours – and one that, quite simply, I cannot agree with.
“What’s more, an email he circulated to the Alinghi team is frankly misleading. In the email he refers to comments I am reported to have made to selected Italian newspapers -- comments which, as I had deliberately made clear to him were in fact very substantial misrepresentations of what I had said. As Ernesto knew, I had also written to the main newspaper concerned immediately after the story appeared, and in good faith I copied this letter to Ernesto.
“In the same way I believe talks I have had with Paul Cayard about ideas for a future event have now been exaggerated. I have made no secret of the fact that Paul and I have been talking about these ideas, which I thought might provide an exciting new event in sailing that, if it ever came off, would in no way be in competition to the America’s Cup.
“From a sailing point of view, I have to say that despite the way it has ended, Alinghi for me has been a terrific experience.
“I have hugely enjoyed working with the whole team and wish them all every success for the future.
“For my own part, I am committed to sailing in several upcoming regattas in Europe over the coming months. It is true that I would have very much liked to have sailed in the next America’s Cup. However the new rule change combined with this dismissal appear to preclude this.
“I also believe the new rule change will be damaging to the sport in general as it unfairly limits sailors’ freedom and will make it very expensive for new teams to contract with team members.
“Whatever I do next in sailing, I hope to play a role that helps to continue to build the sport.”