An owners’ press conference without the owners?

‘Owners Press Conference’, read the sign on the front of the table. The first missing item was the apostrophe. That might sound picky, but had the punctuation mark been placed at the end of the word it would still have been wrong under the circumstances as there was something else missing at the latest America’s Cup press conference – one of the owners.

The missing owner, Larry Ellison had made it clear the night before at his team’s own press conference that he would not be attending the formal get together two days out from the start of the 33rd America’s Cup.

His reason?

“I would love to take Russell [Coutts] to the press conference tomorrow, but Russell has been specifically excluded by name and if they want to specifically exclude Russell by name, I just can’t find the time to go there myself,” he said.

Later the team said that Larry Ellison had asked for Coutts to be his representative and that it was this request that had been turned down.

So, today the press conference MC, Paco Tormo was asked whether Russell had been specifically excluded.

“We wanted an owners’ press conference and the owners of the teams are Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison,” said Tormo. “We did not say that Russell was not welcome, we said that there was no second choice. It was either Ernesto Bertarelli and Mr Ellison. A press conference between Mr Coutts and Ernesto Bertarelli would not be an owner’s press conference.”

You could see his point, although many were surprised to see Alinghi’s skipper Brad Butterworth take the stage at Bertarelli’s request as ‘there was a spare seat.’

As it happens and given the history between the two, perhaps Bertarelli and Coutts would have made for an even more exciting debate.

But if nothing else, such antics marked the beginning of the silly season, a phase that Cup racing seems to go through every time during the last few days of countdown to the Cup.

Who knows what else is in store.