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Leveraging America’s Cup to clean Hauraki Gulf

Published on March 29th, 2019

For the Rio 2016 Olympics, it was an opportunity for the locals to utilize the world spotlight to reduce the pollution which plagued Guanabara Bay. Now it’s Auckland’s turn to leverage the 2021 America’s Cup to improve their water quality.

A daily drain of toxins, plastics, and sediments is degrading the Hauraki Gulf which is a marine reserve, home to 50 islands, boasts a 600-year-old volcano, and parts of it will host the America’s Cup racing.

GulfX is a new project, run by the Sustainable Business Network, aiming to stop pollution caused by heavy metals flowing into the water from the land.

Chief executive Rachel Brown said the plan was to use international events like the America’s Cup, and the pressure of the world’s eye on New Zealand’s oceans, to stimulate investment from businesses and action to restore the Gulf.

“At the first bit of rain, the Hauraki Gulf goes messy and muddy and you can see plastic bags floating in it, we don’t want the world to see that,” she said, in which its unhealthy state sends a negative message about New Zealand.

While people were aware of over-fishing and waste water spills, not a lot of people were aware of the daily drain of toxins, and sediments. Copper leaches from brake pads, anti-fouling paints on boat hulls and metal works, and zinc from rusty roofs – it all drains into the Hauraki Gulf. This is already on top of already existing pollution.

“It’s a national treasure and it is being treated more like a running sewerage pipe,” she said. “We want to stimulate a creative, innovation platform with GulfX for the ideas to come from. We are at a turning point. Awareness is really high, so we can change a whole bunch of things. That’s our mission.”

Neil Sayer, CEO of Stormwater360, is one of the businesses to get behind GulfX since the launch a month ago. Sayer said the two organizations shared a vision for storm water and green infrastructure solutions.

“Notwithstanding upcoming international events, the Gulf is a key treasure and must be protected and restored,” he said. “The deadline for the America’s Cup is certainly realistic, despite the huge amount of work to be done.

“The days of ‘motherhood sustainability statements’ must be left behind, and I urge both industry and the public sector to be on board. It is a matter of urgency that plans are galvanised into real action.”

GulfX is a new project for the Sustainable Business Network, an already established network of over 600 business. Transport, plastic, boats and roofs are some of the immediate changes citizens can make to help this change.

To sign up to become a supporter… click here.


In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and The Netherlands have also been accepted. Here’s the current list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT)
• Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA)

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match


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