Oracle boss Sir Russell Coutts bars former Kiwi team-mate from America's Cup meeting in London

 

While Sir Ben Ainslie leads his team into another round of talks in London on Tuesday the door has been closed firmly in the faces of his old friends from New Zealand.

Ainslie was a member of Emirates Team New Zealand as tune up helmsman for Dean Barker ahead of the 2003 defence in Auckland and has had a close relationship with members of the Kiwi Olympic sailing squad over the years.

He will join representatives of the new likely replacement lead challenger of record, the Prada-backed Italians from Luna Rossa. Also at the table will be his friend and fellow British Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy, boss of the Swedish Artemis Challenge, still grieving the death last year of Percy's fellow medallist, Andrew 'Bart' Simpson.

The fourth team invited by the man in the chair, Sir Russell Coutts, boss of the cup holder defence team Oracle, is from France. This is led Franck Gammas, who has spent the last month on the sailing Tour de France, Michel Desjoyeaux, who has spent the last month coaching the Spanish Volvo Race team, and Olivier de Kersauson, who lives in Tahiti and makes occasional visits to France.

The financial viability of the French group is unknown, though a senior commentator said recently he expected support from the Accor hotel chain and Airbus. The Italians and the Swedes are well-funded and the noises coming out Ainslie's soon to be Portsmouth-based and government supported BAR team have all been positive.

Missing will be Kevin Shoebridge, who represented TNZ at a challenger meeting in Los Angeles callet by the then lead challenger, Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht which a few days later announced its intention to withdraw from the next cup in 2017.
TNZ spoke to Russell Coutts last week and at that time expected to be at the London meeting but was then told no. "We were disinvited," said a senior observer. None of the others wanted to comment on the Kiwi exclusion. A spokesman for the America's Cup Event Authority, also run by Coutts, said: "I can't help you."

The agenda for the London meeting is being kept confidential but is not thought to include persistent offers from the San Francisco Bay city of Alameda to host the teams, all of which have said they would be willing to contribute in any way possible to keep the event in SFO.

ACEA says only San Diego and Bermuda are still in the running. But the teams have only just over a week to lodge formal challenges and the first tranche of USD1m. entry fee. The deadline is midnight PST in SFO on 8 August. The venue and even some format decisions will be weeks after that.

TNZ has been in the cup since 1986/87 where it reached the challenger finals, was then the sole challenger in the big boat versus catamaran farce in San Diego, made the challenger final again in 1992 and then took the cup off the Americans in 1995 with Coutts skipper of a team led by the late Sir Peter Blake.

Coutts defended successfully in Auckland in 2000 but then skippered the Alinghi team from Switzerland which took the cup away in 2003. TNZ, now run by Grant Dalton, was again the final challenger in Valencia in 2007, had to sit out 2010 as Coutts led the Oracle challenge which took the cup away from the Swiss, but were back as the final challenger to Oracle last year. TNZ is intent on challenging again for 2017 ahead of the 8 August deadline.

Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect