America’s Cup: Three Questions for Grant Dalton

Grant Dalton has been pretty busy during the 34th America’s Cup. While juggling his duties as Managing Director of Emirates Team New Zealand, he’s also often onboard the challenger as a grinder. ‘Dalts’ recently took some time out to chat with New Zealand Radio Network, commenting on a few popular topics…

At 56 years of age, why are you on the boat?

There is obviously more muscle than me. If you looked at the percentage overall of how much muscle I don’t bring, it is a number. But in the quick development of these boats, and from a straight motivational point of view for me, I can’t see how you could run the team – keep it moving, direct funds, nag about certain issues – if you weren’t on the boat. I just don’t know how you do it, I really don’t. So it’s my motivation. I do love sailing, but it’s not a reason; it’s not a right. In the end it’s Deano’s decision. He knows what I think but I wouldn’t push it down his throat.

Why won’t we see the AC72 ever again?

Have you ever been sitting on a jet at an airport and a Concorde has taken off in front of you? The roar and the blue flames coming out of the back of it, and you think, holy crap this is unbelievable. And it is, but the problem is that it’s completely uneconomic as the Concorde proved. But when you watch it take off, and the ground thunders under it, it’s insane. And these boats are like that, but the problem is that there completely unsustainable.

It’s not just the cost; it’s about the fact that if you haven’t got it just perfect, the thing will break up like a tree house. It’s just not reachable by normal syndicates. You’ve ended up with the two top syndicates in the world, and they’re the only ones that have been able to sustain it, or even get there effectively. The Concorde is cool too, but it didn’t make it, and these boats unfortunately, and I think fortunately frankly, just aren’t going to make it into the next Cup, not in my view.

If you were to win, what do you envision for the next America’s Cup class?

My preference would be a smaller monohull or a very fast multihull. When these boats (AC72) started racing, there has been this awakening ‘wow thing’ to a lot of people. So there has been this waxing and waning toward big fast multihulls in terms of public perception. But that will again wax and wane, and in a few months time, people will have forgotten that.

What I can say, and I have probably given it more thought right now than I have ever given it, that we will consult heavily and see what the world wants. Because the problem we have had is a dictatorship where we just get told what we are going to sail. In the end if you had democracy, everyone would have an idea and you wouldn’t get anything done. But I want to know what people who are going to join the Cup, syndicates that are real – and I know they’re real because I know the people who have already contacted me if we won – what they want. I am not just going to tell them, that’s not the right way to do it. I want to know what the world wants to sail.

In terms of syndicates interested in competing in Auckland, talk at this stage is cheap. But definitely Luna Rossa, and Ernesto Bertarelli has contacted me a few times, and there is a strong American syndicate, not Oracle, another one that has reached out to me.

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