America’s Cup: Negative noise from New Zealand

Published on June 8th, 2014

Microsoft and Apple, Coke and Pepsi, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Their conflict is our engagement.

Can you imagine the 34th America’s Cup without Emirates Team New Zealand challenging Oracle Team USA? Summed up in a word: Unwatchable.

Their conflict on water, and on land, was our engagement. No other challenger came close. And like it or not, for the America’s Cup to raise its profile, conflict is a component.

The next America’s Cup needs these two teams, but now with the release of the Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup, the negative noise from New Zealand is deafening…

* An editorial in the New Zealand Herald called the terms imposed by defender Oracle Team USA to be” among the most self-serving rules that have been tabled in the 163-year history of the event. Team NZ, and the other potential challengers should not play any part in it.”

* Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton is not sure he can gather sponsor commitments without knowing the venue location, which won’t be released until after the entry deadline. “It is impossible, completely impossible to raise sponsorship money without being able to close the loops with the sponsors and making commercial decisions through a marketing committee. Without a venue you can’t raise real money and that makes it very difficult for commercial teams.”

* Any further New Zealand Government contribution to the America’s Cup team will depend on other sponsors, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says. “My personal view is that it’s still a great thing for New Zealand in terms of the marketing opportunities – particularly if it’s held in one of the cities in the states that we have a strong involvement with such as San Diego or San Francisco.” But the minister reiterated that it’s never going to happen without all the other sponsors, saying: “There’s no way this is a government funded challenge in total.”

* Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill, interviewed by New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ, questions the Kiwi leadership. “If the current management team of Team New Zealand isn’t confident they can pull a team together, or be competitive and win, then maybe the wrong people are running Team New Zealand.”

* Team CEO Grant Dalton is concerned about a clause in the Protocol that requires team members to receive written approval of the America’s Cup commissioner to sail in any regattas outside of the event jurisdiction. “They are saying: you need permission to sail in any other event at any time. Follow that through to its conclusion. When [reigning Olympic silver medallists] Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sail in an AC45 for Team NZ next year, those guys would need Coutts’ permission to go to the Olympics. It’s nonsensical.”

Team New Zealand had bridge funding from their government to retain critical members of their team, but that money will have been spent by the end of this month. For the team to remain viable, they must find funds to keep the payroll going, as well as 2+ million dollars to enter the regatta. The entry period is June 9 to August 8, 2014.

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