Butterworth makes America's Cup assurances

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The Independent Online

America's Cup skipper Brad Butterworth today dismissed fears expressed by his opposite number, and old friend, Russell Coutts and said that there would be nothing untoward in the rules for the event next February nor would there be any attempt to find a way of disqualifying the BMW Oracle trimaran from racing against the Alinghi catamaran.

He was also clear that the international jury to be appointed by the sport's world governing body, the International Sailing Federation by 15 December would not be shackled and would be able to operate normally.

But, as Coutts repeated his willingness to take part in face to face talks to settle grievances which has seen Oracle resort to court action seven times so far – quite what other mechanism is available is unclear – he said: "The die is cast, we are going to race the boats in Ras al-Khaimah, what's to argue over."

What's to argue over now includes the choice of the United Arab Emirate, which Coutts believes is outside the sanction earlier given by Justice Hermann Cahn for the two sides to race in Valencia "or any other location selected by [Alinghi's representative club] the Societe Nautique de Geneve."

Butterworth says he is saddened that Oracle did not even write a letter giving its views about Ras al-Khaimah, preferring to go straight to the New York Supreme Court.

He also said that he was comfortable with the way in which the Oracle trimaran would be measured and that the New York court had itself used the words which Oracle wants, in that the boat "shall not exceed" the stated dimensions of 90 feet on the load waterline and 90 foot maximum waterline width.

"We see this latest move as just a play to get some leverage where there is none," he said, adding that perhaps the fears were being expressed because that would the way Oracle play things. "They are seeing reds under the bed," he said.

"There will be nothing untoward in the Notice of Race (due to be published on 6 November) nor in the Sailing Instructions. There will be nothing that is going to disqualify Oracle. There will be no sleight of hand."

He also dismissed the claims that the race area was in a security hot spot because if its proximity to Ran. Tiger Woods plays golf in the region, and Roger Federer, Switzerland's tennis star, also plays there. Coutts himself soon takes his RC44 circuit to neighbouring Dubai for its sixth and final 2009 event.