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Cayard laments Oracle move

Cayard
Cayard was sidelined by Ellison for the Louis Vuitton Cup

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AMERICA'S CUP
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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (CNN) -- American sailor Paul Cayard is second only to veteran campaigner Dennis Conner when it comes to experience in the America's Cup.

But while the New Zealand regatta heads towards a climax in February, Cayard is thousands of miles away in the Bahamas, forced from his role by Oracle boss Larry Ellison.

"I am a professional sailor, I have trained all my life to be in the America's Cup and I am ready and capable to compete at the highest level of the sport," Cayard told CNN.

"So, I feel I should be down there, I deserve to be down there."

In 1992 he won the Louis Vuitton Cup, skippering the Italian team, Il Moro de Venezia, and won the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1998, but has failed to win the America's Cup.

In the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup, he put together his own syndicate, America One, which reached the final. The Louis Vuitton Cup is to determine the challenger for the America's Cup.

So, when San Francisco billionaire Larry Ellison was building the Oracle BMW Racing team for the current event, he bought Cayard's boats and signed up the skipper too.

But to his bewilderment, Cayard soon found himself off the team.

"I've never spoken to Larry once in the whole two-year campaign. Initially he was keen to know about America One.

"He tracked me down in Italy and was very cordial but he never came to the base."

But Ellison claimed Cayard was surplus to requirements.

"Paul has made a tremendous contribution to the team. Paul is a first-rate driver and first-rate leader in the sport of sailing," Ellison said.

"But we are very deep in talent. We have Chris Dickson, Peter Holmberg. We have a lot of people who can drive that boat."

Fellow crew member New Zealander Chris Dickson soon joined Cayard on the sidelines, after reports of friction with other team members.

But while Cayard remained out in the cold, Dickson was invited back. Ellison recalled him as soon as Oracle started losing races in the early rounds of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Dickson sailed the team to 11 consecutive wins before losing to Swiss team Alinghi in the first of the best-of-seven semifinal races.

"Larry has always been a big fan of Chris -- he is probably the only fan of Chris' in the programme," Cayard said.

Dickson replaced Holmberg as skipper, but decided to retain him at the helm, while he calls tactics.

This means there is now no place on the boat for Ellison.

Cayard seems to have given up hope for a recall to New Zealand, but if Oracle BMW start losing again Ellison may be getting in touch.



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