Russell Coutts on Transforming the America’s Cup
Five times America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts is nowadays working behind the scenes as chief executive of the America’s Cup Event Authority. The New Zealander has, along with Oracle’s Larry Ellison, been responsible for turning a niche event into a mainstream, premium sport. Coutts tells the Telegraph about he transformed the sport.
“When I was growing up the America’s Cup and the sailing world was dominated by [four times winner] Dennis Conner,” Coutts, 55, says. “It was said he’d sail at least 320 days a year – his approach was to leave no stone unturned. He set the standard and was very much my inspiration.
“A business has to be profitable for it to be sustainable. Income comes in cycles with something like the America’s Cup, so it’s vital you control the one thing you can – and that’s your costs. There are fewer and fewer people prepared to tip money into passion projects so we have to make it pay, and we are. We are already returning a minimum of seven times the value of the investment of our partners and the next cycle we will be profitable. That encourages growth, so you will see more teams joining; ideally you would have 10-12.
“You will always get resistance, especially when the product you are developing is so traditional. But you can’t turn the clock back. No matter who wins this year, the organisation is going to want to stage the best America’s Cup they can and broadcasters and sponsors would resist any retrograde steps. The technology is here to stay.
“I once asked Larry Ellison what the key things are to being successful in business. He started with quite an elaborate answer and must have seen my eyes glaze over. So he stopped himself and said: ‘Forget all that. None of that matters. The only thing that matters really, is … never give up.’”
Original article by Russell Coutts, The Telegraph, May 22, 2017.