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Brad Butterworth

Jul 18, 2009 4 Comments by


Brad Butterworth (Photo credit: Carlo Borlenghi/Alinghi)

Brad Butterworth has achieved more than almost any other sailor in the modern era of the America’s Cup, having called the winning tactics on board the winning boat in the last four Cups. However, whenever he’s asked what it takes to win the America’s Cup, he always replies, “Having the faster boat.”

Maybe the tactician is being modest or maybe it’s the harsh reality of the America’s Cup that the faster boat does always win. The 33rd Cup, more than any other of recent times, must surely be decided by the fastest boat. But when asked the question this time, Butterworth says that the key to winning will be “probably not breaking”! Alinghi’s skipper is only being slightly tongue in cheek. “It’s a design contest that’s full of innovation, above and below the water, testing the limits of structures and materials. I think it’s going to be the fastest boat, but also the most reliable boat that will win this time.”

As a tactician and a strategist, Butterworth is as cunning as a fox; capable of outsmarting almost anyone else in a close chess match. But how much of that cunning is he going to be able to bring into play this time, where speed is expected to be the winning factor? “Well, I think it’s a yacht race like any other yacht race, so there’ll be strategies that we will have to implement and we have been thinking hard about what the races will be like. I think there will be some good tactical situations even though the boats will be sailing at much faster speeds.”

Some people have been concerned about the potential closing speeds of the two giant multihulls in a pre-start situation. Butterworth, however, has faith that both teams will be sensible about sailing aggressively without venturing into dangerous territory. “Neither of these boats has been in a match race before and so it will take quite a while to get the measure of each other. The Racing Rules of sailing do a good job of keeping boats apart, although of course we shouldn’t forget that this is still a match race. I just hope that we can have a good race while keeping everybody safe. That would be the perfect outcome.”

As for that magic moment that happens at the start of every America’s Cup match, when Defender and Challenger line up against each other for the first time, Butterworth knows that feeling better than anyone. As to how he things this time will compare with previous Cups, he replies: “Quite different, because we will not have raced this boat, so in times gone past we’ve had the odd view of the other boat and the racing. Even if it’s a fleet race or a one-off match race we’ve still had the opportunity to sail the other teams. But this time there has been none of that. When both teams line up on that first day, no one really knows how they’re going to compare.”

With that said, Butterworth has a lot of faith in the people of Alinghi. “I think we’ve got a great group. I think that’s the secret of it. There are a lot of guys that have been with the team since it was born and they’ve stuck with it and they’re integral parts of making the boat go fast. It’s a team sport. It’s been a team sport for a long time now, but you need everybody to do their bit and I think that’s what makes us quite strong, as we’ve got great people in every area of the game.”

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Brad Butterworth
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bradley William Butterworth, OBE (born 1959) is a world-renowned yachtsman best known as tactician and skipper in the America’s Cup for Team New Zealand and the Alinghi team of Switzerland.

He was born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand in 1959. He has been sailing since age six.

Butterworth has sailed and been successful in many international sailing competitions, including the Admiral’s Cup, the Kenwood Cup[1], the Sydney to Hobart Race, the Fastnet Race, the Whitbread Round The World Race and the America’s Cup.

In 1983 Butterworth started in the America’s Cup as a sail-maker in the winning Australian campaign for the Cup.

1987 was a busy year as he was the skipper of the top-ranked Admiral’s Cup boat Propaganda when New Zealand won the Admiral’s Cup in England[2] after being aboard New Zealand’s first America’s Cup challenge in Fremantle as tactician earlier in the same year. He has been involved in the America’s Cup in almost every event since 1983 and in the winning team four times, twice as challenger and twice as defender.

He was also a watch captain on Steinlager II with Peter Blake when she won the 1989-90 Whitbread Round The World Race[3] and skipper of a Whitbread 60 (later Volvo Ocean 60) class boat in the 1993/1994 race where he was associated with Dennis Conner and Tom Whidden[4].

Butterworth was tactician on the America’s Cup winning teams of 1995 and 2000, both times winning the America’s Cup match 5-0. He was awarded OBE after the 1995 event.

After the successful defense of the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2000 the then skipper, Russell Coutts, tactician Butterworth and several other members of the New Zealand team moved to the Alinghi team. They then won the America’s Cup in 2003, beating Team New Zealand 5-0 in waters near Auckland. After Russell Coutts left Alinghi in March 2005, Butterworth became skipper himself and went on to win the 2007 America’s Cup in Valencia, again beating Team New Zealand, this time 5-2.

Public reaction in New Zealand to Butterworth and the other New Zealanders changing teams and moving to a Swiss team in 2000 was mixed. Some supported the move believing they were simply professional sailors who had already previously sailed in non-New Zealand campaigns in other sailing events (including Butterworth’s own participation in the 1983 Australian team in the America’s Cup), while many others regarded this move as a betrayal particularly since the America’s Cup was – at that time – running with predominantly nationality-based teams.

Butterworth’s impressive unbeaten run of 16 wins in America’s Cup racing dating back to 1995 came to an end on June 24th, 2007 when the defender, Alinghi, was beaten in the second race of the 2007 America’s Cup by the challenger Emirates Team New Zealand.

Butterworth was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 2004.

NZL, 09/04/1959, Te Awamutu (NZL) –

– 1983: Sail program assistant, Australia II, winner of the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cup
– 1987: Tactician, Kiwi Magic, KZ-7, defeated in the 1987 Louis Vuitton Cup finals,
– 1992: Tactician of the back-up boat, New Zealand NZL-14, and then promoted aboard the unsuccessful challenger, New Zealand NZL-20, for the last three races in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals
– 1995: Tactician, Team New Zealand, Black Magic, NZL-38 and NZL-32, Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup winner
– 2000: Tactician, Team New Zealand, NZL-60, successful America’s Cup defender
– 2003: Tactician, Alinghi, SUI-64, Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup winner
– 2006: Skipper, tactician and vice-president, Alinghi, 32nd America’s Cup defender.

“It won’t make any difference to the way we sail the boat,” said a modest Brad Butterworth in October, 2005 when he was named as skipper of the 2007 Defender by team president Ernesto Bertarelli. “But I guess it will be a little bit different for me as it makes me responsible for the boat as a whole.”

It is certainly an increase in responsibility for Butterworth who will also serve as tactician and as vice president of the Swiss Alinghi team. But it is a natural progression towards leadership, as Butterworth has assumed more and more responsibility over the team ahead of the 32nd America’s Cup defence.

He certainly has the experience, with over 40 years of sailboat racing behind him. Butterworth first sailed, like many of his countrymen, aboard the small local dinghy, the P-Class, before graduating to the Starling, then the 470 and finally the Laser. By the age of 21, he was racing keelboats.

Curiously it was not as a sailor, but as a sailmaker, that Butterworth first entered the world of the America’s Cup. Working for Alan Bond’s syndicate during the victorious 1983 Australian campaign, he found immediate success. Alongside his countryman Tom Schnackenberg, he worked on the sail programme that contributed to the historic Australia II win.

That same year, Butterworth discovered offshore ocean racing and the Admiral’s Cup as the helmsman of the Lady B under Peter Blake’s leadership. In 1985, he was the skipper of Mad Max in the Southern Cross Race and two years later, he raced his first America’s Cup as the tactician aboard Magic Kiwi KZ-7 skippered by Chris Dickson. Their results in the Louis Vuitton Cup were incredible: 37 wins from 38 races, but then they were beaten 4 – 1 in the 1987 Louis Vuitton Cup finals by Dennis Conner.

A few months later, Butterworth won the 1987 Admiral’s Cup as skipper of Propaganda. Then, as Peter Blake’s watch captain, he won the 1989-90 Whitbread Around the World Race aboard Steinlager II. In 1992, he went back to the America’s Cup as tactician of the back-up challenger boat, New Zealand, NZL-14, with Russell Coutts as the skipper. The Louis Vuitton Cup final was raced between New Zealand NZL-20 fitted with a tandem keel and helmed by Rod Davis assisted by David Barnes and Il Moro di Venezia ITA-25 skippered by Paul Cayard. After falling behind 3 – 1, the Italians destabilised the New Zealander by protesting the way the team used its bowsprit. The head of the Kiwi challenge, Michael Fay, promoted Coutts and Butterworth to the race boat, which they had previously sailed just a handful of times. The result was predictable, and Il Moro won the 1992 Vuitton Cup.

From 1995, Butterworth worked as tactician alongside skipper Peter Blake, and helmsman Russell Coutts. It was a perfect combination, and the team went on to win first the Louis Vuitton Cup and then the America’s Cup.

“My job is to observe the other boats when racing,” Butterworth says. “I have to decide where we ought to be, and in which direction we ought to go, given the wind and the position of the opposition.”

While he makes it sound simple, in fact the tactician is as responsible as the helmsman for each victory and defeat. And in this role, many say Butterworth is simply the best that there is. In 1995, on a total of 43 races, he knew only a single defeat. In 2000, the team aboard Team New Zealand NZL-60, with Coutts at the helm and Butterworth as tactician won the first four races. Coutts handed the wheel to a young Dean Barker for the fifth and final race, and Butterworth guided him to victory.

A short time later, along with a handful of Team New Zealand sailors, Brad Butterworth and Russell Coutts left their role as defender to again take up the challenge role in the America’s Cup, this time for Ernesto Bertarelli’s Swiss team, Alinghi.

In 2003, Butterworth and his mates won the America’s Cup for Switzerland aboard SUI-64. Led by Russell Coutts, Alinghi crushed the defender, Team New Zealand, NZL-82. by a 5 to 0 scoreline.

At the beginning of 2004 a dispute between Bertarelli and Coutts bubbled to the surface. Butterworth held away from the controversy; it did not concern him. By deciding to stay with Alinghi, Butterworth retained the Kiwi core of the Swiss team for the defence. Between September 2004 and October 2005, Alinghi dominated the first nine Louis Vuitton Acts.

With the role of helmsmen alternating between Jochen Schuemann, Ed Baird and Peter Holmberg, the tactician role remained constant with Butterworth. By appointing him as skipper of Alinghi in October 2005, Ernesto Bertarelli made official what had been in practice since Coutts left the team.

“I am happy in that position and comfortable to carry it on, especially with the strong group we have,” Butterworth explained at the time. An elegant way of affirming his determination to win the America’s Cup…for the fourth consecutive time.


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Butterworth, Fife, Haff And Whidden Are 2004 Inductees

America’s Cup Hall of Fame
Bristol, Rhode Island

Four legends of America’s Cup sailing – Tom WHIDDEN (USA), Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL), Hank HAFF (USA) and William FIFE III (GBR) have been named as the 2004 inductees to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
The inductees will be honoured on the occasion of the Rolex America’s Cup Hall of Fame XII Annual Induction Ceremony to be held on 10 June 2004. The black-tie affair, sponsored by supporter Rolex Watch U.S.A., is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Rosecliff, the Newport (R.I.) mansion modelled after the Grand Trianon in France.

Presiding over the Induction Ceremony will be Halsey C. HERRESHOFF, President of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. Tickets are available to the public by contacting the America’s Cup Hall of Fame at 401-465-7610 or e-mailing Proceeds from the ceremony will benefit the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.

Bradley William BUTTERWORTH OBE (1959-) – In the Cup’s long history, no other afterguard member has won so many races in succession as Butterworth. As tactician aboard three winning boats (New Zealand’s Black Magic in 1995 and 2000, and Switzerland’s Alinghi in 2003), Butterworth set a new Cup record with 15 consecutive America’s Cup race victories

Born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand, Butterworth performed with distinction in junior sailing before graduating to big boats. He was tactician for both Chris DICKSON in New Zealand’s first America’s Cup challenge in 1986-87, and for Russell COUTTS aboard New Zealand’s successful trial horse in 1992 into the Louis Vuitton finals. After that, the pair were always in the number one boats while also winning world championships in match racing. Butterworth, watch captain for Sir Peter Blake on Steinlager II when she won the 1989-90 Whitbread Round The World Race, was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) after New Zealand won the Cup in 1995.

Butterworth is a Grand Master in the game of maritime chess that is the America’s Cup. “My job is to observe the other boats when racing,” said the always-understated Butterworth of his role as tactician. “I have to decide where we ought to be, in which direction we ought to go, given the wind and the adversary’s position.” Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, including having a sharp mind, a fierce competitive spirit, and intimate, trusting relationship with his helmsman. For all those reasons, and for his remarkable record, Brad Butterworth is elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. more here

Six years after the Alinghi team received death threats targeting its Team NZ defectors and their families, skipper Brad Butterworth is still shadowed in his home town by a bodyguard.

While for most people the bad old days of the 2003 BlackHeart campaign are a distant memory, Butterworth and Alinghi are taking no chances, ensuring there is a constant but casual security presence around the team.

Butterworth, in Auckland with Alinghi for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series being raced on the Waitemata Harbour, is constantly tailed by minder-to-the-stars Wayne Tempero, a bald, stocky, heavily tattooed personal security expert who has looked after the royal family of Brunei and footballer David Beckham.

Tempero has been involved with Alinghi since 2002, when he was appointed head of security for Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli and his family, as well as the entire syndicate. Tempero, a New Zealander based here and in the US, has also devised his own system of self defence, known as Stamp.

Last week he and his staff were never far from Butterworth’s side, accompanying him to a pre-regatta cocktail party, chatting to him on the wharf at the Viaduct Harbour prior to racing, following him down to the racing yachts and going out on the water on a tender boat.

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Radio New Zealand interview here

Brad Butterworth will be speaking at the Stewart 34 50th Celebration

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