Neighborhood Rivals Meet at America’s Cup
Brady, Hutchinson Are Annapolis Residents
VALENCIA, Spain — If all goes to plan, which it rarely does in the America’s Cup, top challengers BMW Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand will slug it out next month for the right to sail against Swiss Alinghi in the Cup Match in June. That would find two familiar faces glaring at each other across the water in the best-ofnine challenger finals.
“At home, we live about three miles apart. We see each other a lot,” said Terry Hutchinson, tactician on top-ranked Team New Zealand, of Gavin Brady, his counterpart on No. 2-rated U.S. entry BMW Oracle. “Our kids play together.”
Here they live even closer — just a long golf shot apart, says Hutchinson — but don’t socialize as much. The exception was Easter Sunday, when the Hutchinsons and Bradys convened for dinner under special rules set by the wives: no Cup talk.
That two Annapolis sailors would wind up calling the shots here on top challenging teams from opposite sides of the world is not surprising in today’s Cup, where nationality means little. It’s worth noting that Brady, a native New Zealander, sails for his adopted home while Hutchinson, born and bred in Maryland, represents the South Pacific island Brady came from.
Whatever happens in May and June, Hutchinson reckons by midsummer the rivals will be back home with their combined five kids mixing it up poolside. And Brady expects he and Hutchinson will be at each others’ throats in a friendly way on the Severn River, practice-racing small boats to keep sharp.
“I keep two IC-24s [modified J-24s] at Bert Jabin’s Yard,” said Brady, 33. “Terry and Chris Larson and I go at it whenever we’re in town. It’s probably some of the most competitive racing in North America. The powerboaters don’t know what to make of it.”
Brady came to Annapolis from Timaru on New Zealand’s South Island to work on local racer George Collins’s fleet of boats in 1993. He was a raw teenager but made an impression. In two years he’d been hired by fellow Kiwi Chris Dickson, now skipper of BMW Oracle, to sail in the 1995 Cup in San Diego. Brady wound up calling tactics, a stunning rise for a 20-year-old.
Hutchinson, 38, an all-American at Old Dominion University, took longer to climb the Cup ladder. His first experience was in 2000 in Auckland as mainsail trimmer on Paul Cayard’s AmericaOne. In 2003, he called tactics on Dennis Conner’s ill-fated Stars & Stripes.
Does he have any misgivings about switching to a non-American effort? “It never crossed my mind,” Hutchinson said. “My goal is to win the America’s Cup by any means possible. My only hope is the third time’s the charm.”
The two tacticians arrived at their current spots by distinctly different routes. Hutchinson was recruited by TNZ skipper Dean Barker in a sort of “arranged marriage,” by Barker’s description. They hadn’t sailed together, but “he was excited about it, and that was the key ingredient,” Barker said. “He had the attitude we wanted but we had to make it work.” Over 21⁄ years of training and racing,
2 Barker and Hutchinson forged a bond. There were bumps in the road, Barker said. Trust is crucial between skipper and tactician. “We made mistakes and got over them. You take a lot from that.”
Kiwis love to needle each other and, over time, Hutchinson learned to give as good as he got. “He’s been Kiwi-fied,” team spokesman Warren Douglas said. “He and Dean go at it all the time.”
Brady had other issues. He was helmsman on BMW Oracle when the program got going but was replaced a year and a half ago at the wheel by Dickson, who heads the sailing program.
Brady left for almost a year, during which time Frenchman Bertrand Pace called tactics. But he kept up with Dickson by phone and with Larry Ellison, the billionaire software baron who bankrolls the team and sails on the boat, taking the helm from time to time. Brady coached Ellison in match-racing tactics in San Francisco.
Last September, he got the call to come back as tactician and agreed. By all accounts, there are no lingering resentments. “He’s into it 110 percent,” said Tom Ehman, BMW Oracle’s director of external affairs.
Brady says having two Kiwis in the back of the boat makes life simpler. “It’s unbelievably noisy when we’re racing,” he said, “and when the helicopters come in for the big matches it’s worse. It helps if you can understand each other without words.”
Hutchinson says he and Barker have developed the same sort of connection despite their cultural differences. “We became friends,” he says. “We had to. But first, we learned to sail together. We’re in a really comfortable place now. We each know what the other means. Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it.
“About 80 percent of the time, Dean will default to me if I explain my decision right. If I don’t, he’ll default to his own instincts, and that’s not too bad because he has great instincts. Sometimes I just say, ‘Go with your instinct.’ ”
Hutchinson reckons the long-term stability of the afterguard on TNZ will more than offset the natural bond Dickson and Brady have. “It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes with them,” he said. “They raced all last season in one configuration [with Pace] and now they make the change. They have a new boat [USA 98] that they haven’t had a lot of time to devel- op and a new tactician. How will they hold up?
“With us,” Hutchinson continued, “there’s nothing we haven’t done. We’ve been training for three years, we’ve had plenty of time to develop our boat, we have adequate money and a good leader in Dalts [team leader Grant Dalton], who is relentless and crazy in a good way. I don’t see the wheels coming off.”
“We’ve come a long way in the last six months,” Brady says in response. “At this point, it’s quite uncertain how we’ll match up. These two boats have never been on the water together. It’s going to be interesting.”
Gavin Brady, right, has coached software billionaire Larry Ellison in match-racing tactics. Brady is a native New Zealander who came to the United States as a teenager.
Terry Hutchinson, middle, is the tactician on top-ranked Team New Zealand, which is competing for a spot in the challenger finals. Hutchinson is a Maryland native.