Team New Zealand: How It All Began

Published on August 31st, 2015

Ever since the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron began competing in the America’s Cup, their team has had the unmistakable branding of their country: Team New Zealand. Now in their eighth campaign, the country’s involvement in the America’s Cup began with the passion of one man: Marcel Fachler. Here he explains:

Back in 1983, I witnessed Australia II’s historic victory during the 25th edition of the America’s Cup in Newport, Rhode Island. It was the first time since 1851 that the America’s Cup trophy was taken away from the United States.

As a keen sailor, I’d been following the exploits of New Zealand sailors for 10 years, and I started asking why the Kiwis did not lodge a challenge for the next Cup that would be held in Fremantle in 1987.

I was sure when the time came in 1984 that someone would pay the entry fee for the Cup. But nobody stepped forward. I waited until the last day, and without anybody knowing, I just paid it.

When the challenge was accepted, I flew to Auckland and told Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Vice-Commodore Don Brooke, “You’re in the Cup”.

A stunned Brooke replied, “We don’t have the money.”

I told him that I didn’t have the money for the whole Cup, but what I could do is start them off. I put in as much as I could at the time, and that’s how New Zealand got started in the America’s Cup.

I am extremely proud of the part I played in New Zealand’s participation, and proud that many in New Zealand have dubbed me the “Grandfather of the Cup.”

However, the current edition of the America’s Cup up has left much of the original content of the Deed of Gift behind, and is no longer representative as a contest between nations and yacht clubs. It has become a very different event from the Cup regatta of 1983 that I fell in love with.

I believe the America’s Cup needs to distance itself from the current image that it is the exclusive domain of billionaires and restore the element of nationalism. This was part of the initial concept, and I believe this original idea would create more interest in the Cup. Along with lower costs, this will allow more countries to participate.

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