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America’s Cup: Coutts – Another Kiwi team could replace Team NZ

Published on April 20th, 2015

Sir Russell Coutts is confident Team New Zealand will contest the 2017 America’s Cup but has said if they don’t front in Bermuda, another New Zealand syndicate would fill their place. The America’s Cup official website announced that the entire event will take place off Bermuda, taking away initial plans of Auckland host a pre-regatta, and with it the likelihood of Team New Zealand getting government funding.

Coutts, a five time winner of the America’s Cup, told the New York Times that he still hoped to have six challengers in Bermuda and said it was unlikely Team New Zealand would withdrawal. But if they did he said another team from New Zealand would most likely replace them. “Others would put a New Zealand team together because frankly they have the components of a very competitive team, more so under this rule,” the Oracle Team USA chief executive said. “They have a great sailing team, and this rule favors a great sailing team.”

Team New Zealand and Italian syndicate Luna Rossa have both protested the format change with Luna Rossa withdrawing from the 2017 event. Coutts told the New York Times he is keen for Luna Rossa to change their mind but is confident they’ll find other teams to replace them.

“Ideally, no question you’d keep Luna Rossa in the game,” Coutts said. “But I think we will definitely see other teams coming in because of the boat change, and I can tell you there’s a Japanese team coming in, and when you see who the owner of that team is, you would debate whether it’s bigger or smaller than Luna Rossa.”

With Team NZ’s bid for Government funding hinging on securing hosting rights to the qualifying regatta, there has been suggestion the Kiwi syndicate may be forced to close their doors without a top-up from the taxpayer.

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