Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Team USA at the America’s Cup, responded to an Italian team threatening to sit out in advance of the opening weekend of the sailing event by calling them “a bunch of spoiled rich kids dressed in Prada gear.”
“I think it’s just wrong that they should think that by threatening the event and threatening race officials that they’re going to get their own way,” Coutts said of Luna Rossa, according to The Associated Press. “It’s just the wrong approach. They’re frankly acting like a bunch of babies. Even my 7-year-old boy doesn’t behave like this. I wouldn’t accept this behavior from him. It’s childish.”
Coutts, a New Zealand native, is a four-time America’s Cup winner and a 1984 Olympic sailing gold medalist.
Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand are protesting safety changes made following the death of British sailor Andrew “Bart” Simpson in a capsize tragedy on May 9.
They say their boats were designed and built under the old rules and they don’t have time to build new rudders and, perhaps more importantly, test them. They’ve also said they feel the change gives an advantage to defending champion Oracle Team USA, which doesn’t have to race until the start of the 34th America’s Cup on Sept. 7.
Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand are scheduled to face off Sunday, if they back off their threats, with their protest set to be heard Monday, according to the AP.