Russell Coutts: Without television, we are not tenants

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1 April in the Portuguese town of Cascais ended one of the stages of the world series in the RC 44 class. Russian Katyusha team tactician was the creator of this class. Russell Coutts., multiple holder of Кубка Америки, the Presidet of Oracle Racing - the defender of the Cup. Our good acquaintance, Spanish yachting journalist Pierre Orfanides talked to Russell. Here is an abridged version of his interview:

« One of the main difficulties of the Cup today is certain problems with broadcasters. As a matter of fact, TV is what defines the face of any sporting event today. TV is what creates its value. Nowadays, you cannot get any financing (except private charity) unless you have contracts with broadcasting corporations, which add value to any event. We are still only at the beginning of a journey that I hope will lead us to success.

33rd America's Cup promo in Valencia

Cooperation with TV channels helps yachtsmen. First of all, live TV broadcasts do not allow us to postpone the start time of the race. The broadcasting is strictly according to the schedule and the competition must start exactly at the scheduled time. Delays are unacceptable. The implication is that we must have fast boats capable of racing spectacularly even in light winds, when - under normal conditions - the race would normally be postponed or cancelled. Secondly, the race must be within TV time limits, which means that judges must be able to shorten it quickly. Once again, without a quality television product, it is impossible to sell the event. Here, for example, the Italian La7 considers the broadcast of Кубка 2007 года from Valencia to be a complete failure. We, athletes, liked those races, but the TV people didn't. The same thing was said to us by major American broadcasters: «Look, your sport in its current form is not interesting enough for television».

And here I must admit that we made a mistake. We underestimated the 45-foot multihull that we invented ourselves. We thought it was too small to look cool on TV. But it turned out to be very good on TV. If we understood it straight away there would have been no need to buy more expensive 72-footer. I'll be blunt: it's a revelation for me. However, there are several AC 72 boats already under construction and whoever wins the Cup will have the opportunity to revisit that situation. Although the AC 72s are really cool boats and maybe their spectator value can somehow compensate for the cost of building them. And to keep the price down, maybe it makes sense to introduce some of the same design elements for everyone - a kind of stripped down One design.

This would help reduce costs and increase the number of participants in the future. I would certainly like to see at least 12 teams. At the moment we only have three or four building 72-footers and I think we'll be hearing something more about Korean and Chinese contenders in the near future. So it won't be as tragic with numbers as it seems now.

Well, there's another overdue problem. I think it's time to organize a fully independent management of the Cup by creating an independent America's Cup Event Authority (ASEA). But right now, it's all paid for. Larry Ellisonso ACEA interim president Steve Barclay is also one of our team directors. Oracle Racing. You can't say to a financier: «Give us the money and we'll run it ourselves». It's not realistic ..."

A promo for the 34th America's Cup, which will be held in San Francisco in 2013

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