Clock ticking for America’s Cup teams

Published on May 21st, 2020

by Matt Brown, New Zealand Herald
Two of Team New Zealand’s rivals have expressed a growing frustration at the lack of information from the Government on an issue which could put New Zealand’s hosting of the 2021 America’s Cup in jeopardy.

D-day is fast looming for America’s Cup syndicates wanting to get their foreign nationals into New Zealand ahead of the 36th battle for the Auld Mug next March. For now, only New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can enter, and must undergo 14 days of quarantine on arrival.

Some America’s Cup challengers claim they have had no indication from Government as to when they might be able to get their foreign nationals into the country, and there is a growing feeling that if Cup personnel cannot be on the ground by early July, the challengers will push for a delay of the America’s Cup for up to a year, or even worse, lobby for the regatta to be moved offshore.

American Magic syndicate head Terry Hutchinson has praised the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic but believes the next few weeks are critical, telling the Herald their first boat needs to be sailing in Auckland by July.

“While we have had certain communications, some of it has been quiet — there is a big hesitancy to over-promise and under-deliver. I know I would appreciate it if we could get more [information]. We definitely need some answers.”

The America’s Cup match is due to start on March 6.

Hutchinson says they will need their personnel in Auckland soon, with their first boat to arrive on June 20.

American Magic would pay for the mandatory quarantine on arrival for their more than 60 foreign nationals, and any related costs, but according to Hutchinson, they would need to be given the green light by mid-June to get their people into the country.

The alternative is to delay the Cup or move it offshore.

“It’s hard to even entertain the idea of going elsewhere or of postponing the event. I’ve had really candid communications with Grant Dalton [Team New Zealand chief executive]. “We have a very good relationship and he understands our position and the team’s position. He also knows we do need some action.”

Hutchinson’s remarks have been echoed by INEOS Team UK chief executive Grant Simmer.

Speaking to veteran Australian yachting commentator Peter Shipway on his Cruising Yacht Club of Australia podcast, Simmer said he was frustrated by the lack of communication from the Government.

“They haven’t told us when they are going to give us work visas and so we don’t know when we can come down to New Zealand. We need to get a forward party there to set up the base and start things happening,” Simmer said. “The New Zealand Government have been silent on that.”

Asked earlier this month by the Herald about allowing non-New Zealand crew members to enter the country, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson was non-committal, but was hopeful the Cup will proceed as scheduled.

“It’s early days and I don’t have a definitive answer on that,” Robertson said.

“I absolutely get the ambition, and know they’ll be champing at the bit to get here.

“Getting into next year we’re all going to be wanting things to look forward to; to bring the country together, to get the economy pumping.”

For a video interview with Terry Hutchinson, click here.


36th America’s Cup
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 were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

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

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have allegedly made their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol, they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee, nor is there any knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team training.

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 (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
✔ October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
✔ February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia (CANCELLED)
✔ June 4-7, 2020: Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England (CANCELLED)
December 17-20: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 6-15, 2021: The America’s Cup Match

AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1


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