America's Cup: There was no secret weapon - Coutts

By Hayden Meikle of the Otago Daily Times

Sir Russell Coutts says the foil-adjusting technology rumoured to be the key to Oracle's comeback in the America's Cup was a figment of someone's imagination.

The Oracle chief executive said "Herbie" as it had been termed, was a beat-up.

"It would be illegal to have an automated system on board. It would not be allowed. The measurers inspected the boats before and after each day of use and they saw nothing.

"It's amazing how some so-called knowledgeable people started to believe in stuff like that. There's simply no automation allowed under the rules.

"Clearly, we were behind at the start. Team New Zealand started well, and had moded their boat well and had speed advantage upwind.

"We had our backs to the wall and knew we needed to close the gap fast. In some ways, we were fortunate the series dragged on.

"The key decision was when we used our wildcard to delay that afternoon race. We could work on stuff and regroup."

Coutts said he was involved in the call to play the postponement card but it was a group decision.

Coutts cannot wait to get home, and he has not ruled out the possibility of returning to his former team.

New Zealand's greatest sailor has had little time to relax since helping guide Oracle to their stunning come-from-behind win in San Francisco.

Coutts has had a few days to debrief before flying to Europe for a business commitment. He and family will then holiday in Fiji before returning to New Zealand.

"Home" is not clear-cut. Coutts has properties in Auckland, near Queenstown and Dunedin where he grew up, and the home of his most fervent supporters and the Ravensbourne Boat Club to which he is inextricably linked.

"I'm coming home as fast as I possibly can," Coutts said from San Francisco yesterday.

"It will be great to get back to the South Island for a while and have a think about things.

"I've got to take a breath. There have been been highs and lows over the last few weeks, so it'll be nice to take a breather and reflect on things."

Reflection is also the word for Team New Zealand, which will weigh up whether to go for the Auld Mug again after blowing an 8-1 lead.

Coutts' view is clear: Team New Zealand must find a way to stay afloat.

"It's a fantastic brand for the country to have out there," he said.

"New Zealand's major industries are tourism and farming. This is a technology platform that I think markets the country in a very positive way.

"Team New Zealand performed well in San Francisco. They were up against a very strong team and they almost beat us. They led in innovation in a lot of areas, and we had to react and play catch-up," he said. "It was a very, very impressive challenge. I think it was one of the best Team New Zealand efforts yet. Maybe the best, and I'd include the wins in 1995 and 2000 in that."

Coutts, in roles on and off the water, has now won the America's Cup a record five times, twice with Team New Zealand, twice with Oracle and once with Alinghi.

His success with the black boat earned him a knighthood, and he has given some thought to rejoining the New Zealand-based syndicate. But Oracle boss Larry Ellison has also promised him a "job for life".

"I owe Larry a lot. He's been incredibly good to me," Coutts said. "Larry and I get along well, despite the reports that came out during the series. He was amazingly positive.

"He's a technically knowledgeable guy. He thinks and acts logically, and he was involved with everything." Otago Daily Times

- Otago Daily Times

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