Brad Butterworth's reaction
Alinghi skipper and tactician Brad Butterworth, gives his comments on Emirates Team New Zealand’s 5-0 win in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Alinghi, the Defender, will meet Emirates Team New Zealand, the Challenger, on the 23 June to fight to defend the America’s Cup.
What's your reaction to Emirates Team New Zealand winning the Louis Vuitton Cup?
“I think it's a great result for Emirates Team New Zealand because they've sailed well throughout the whole regatta. I think for years they've been the form team coming through the challenger regattas so it's really not a big surprise.”
5-0 is unprecedented. What's your take on that result?
“I think they are just sailing very well. They have had the benefit of the Louis Vuitton series to get their game bigger and better so they are a force to be reckoned with. Obviously they are on top of their game, especially winning 5-0, it's a fantastic achievement so good on them.”
How different will it be defending against Emirates Team New Zealand rather than challenging them like last time in 2003?
“It's totally different. You could call it a rematch or you could just say these are the two best teams left in the cup at this stage. Hopefully we will see some great racing at the end of the day. I think the fastest boat will win.”
In your opinion, what are the strengths and weaknesses of Emirates Team New Zealand?
“They are strong in most areas. I think Dean Barker has done a great job with his input into the team. He has sailed the boat very well, he has been very consistent with little support from around him. I don't think they have many weaknesses, I think they are good all round. The boat looks good, they are a good bunch of sailors, they will be a force to be reckoned with and obviously they are the best that the Louis Vuitton Cup has to offer.”
How is Alinghi preparing over the coming weeks?
“We are just trying to emulate the racing the challengers get in the Louis Vuitton Cup which is difficult. But we have got a great team; the sailors have done a great job to have good racing each day; we have got two very good boats and we're spoilt for a choice really. We will see how it goes.”
What is the team spirit like now at Alinghi?
“It always gets a little bit tense at the end of the Louis Vuitton Cup because we are looking at something that we have no control over. We don't race in the event so we don't know what the speed of the other boat is. They might have changed something, they might have improved, so it's a little tense at times but overall it's good fun here at Alinghi. We're trying to enjoy the event. The work we have done in the past is going to help us in the long run.”
What's your America's Cup highlight?
“Winning the Cup in New Zealand was a big highlight because it was the first time in its history that it had been defended outside of America. That would be a highlight of mine but every time I sail in this Cup, especially with this team, it's been great. I am surrounded by a lot of good people, the best in the game, so hopefully this will be the highlight when we defend the cup here in Valencia.
"Every race has a different flavour. The windy races in New Zealand were exceptional. When you sail these boats in a lot of wind you have to pay attention. It becomes quite a physical boat, seeing seventeen guys work as one is always a highlight.”
What is it like to win the America's Cup?
“It's vindication for the hard work we have put in. You really don't know until the last race whether you are going to win. There is a lot of hard work put into these boats and we've had to make some tough decisions. You go through your ups and downs, it's a bit of a lifestyle and everyone is keen for it to end because we've been working towards this moment. If you win it you have great satisfaction.”
How difficult is it to keep the crew sharp and hungry?
“It's difficult. It never gets easier. It's harder each time you do it. This is no exception.”
Are there more problems in the role of team skipper?
“Not really, I have a great respect for the people that are around me. There are a lot of good leaders in different parts of the team and I have a great pool of experience around me. We just have to use that and be the best we can be on the given day and I think we will be ok.”
Has the emphasis of the Cup shifted back to human skill?
“I think there's always been human skill involved. Human skill is perverse among the team in terms of the fact that you have to wind up with the fastest boat. That may be keels, rudders, structure, masts, sails and finally how you sail the boat. The fastest boat wins and Emirates Team New Zealand had the fastest boat in the Louis Vuitton Cup – that was obvious to everyone.”
Have there been any surprises in terms of Alinghi's abilities?
“We try to make ourselves perfect and it's hard to be perfect, I don't know anybody that is. In every area we try to do a perfect job from masts to building the boats to designing the sails, everyone is striving for perfection. When we sail the boat we also try to be perfect but we all make mistakes and obviously this game is about making the least amount of mistakes.”
How do you analyse the victory by Emirates Team New Zealand?
“Emirates Team New Zealand just sailed well all the way through. They won the Round Robins; they picked Spain, probably the weakest team out of the four, and lost a couple of races but Spain had a very good boat and did a great job. They wound up sailing Luna Rossa Challenge and at this stage of the game little deficiencies in the programme are exposed in a big way. I think Luna Rossa has a problem in the lighter air and Team New Zealand just consolidated on that and sailed away.”