Risk Taker on Another Collision Course
“Seconds before Russell Coutts crashed his AC45 into the race-committee boat at the start of an America’s Cup World Series race a year ago in San Francisco, [fellow New Zealander] Murray Jones braced himself and thought, ‘Here we go again,’ San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Tom FitzGerald recalls.
“Longtime teammate of Coutts, Murray had seen him crash before during their long careers in yacht racing.
“It’s not that Coutts, now an ex-skipper at 51, was sailing’s answer to NASCAR’s Tony Stewart. On occasion, though, Coutts took chances other skippers would have avoided.
“The four-time America’s Cup winner is on a collision course with his countrymen – again – this time as chief executive of Oracle Team USA. He and seven members of the Oracle crew who hail from New Zealand will try to defend Oracle’s America’s Cup against a stiff challenge of Emirates Team New Zealand [which began on 31 August].
“Although some people have allowed their feelings toward Coutts to mellow, others would like to see him strapped to the wing of a catamaran and sent out to sea by himself. The New Zealand media fan the flames, in his estimation.
“Coutts was the main architect of this year’s regatta and the decision to use 72-foot catamarans.
“If Oracle keeps the Cup, he said, he definitely would change one thing: ‘It’s too expensive, so you’ve got to cut the costs.’
“Luckily for Coutts, he could pick cash from Larry Ellison’s hefty wallet. Coutts’ friends and fans would say his glittery career earned him that right.”