COVID-19 loophole for superyachts

Published on September 27th, 2020

While the America’s Cup in San Francisco sought to bring the event to the people, making this historic event ordinary does not sustain its allure. The America’s Cup is for champagne sippers, not beer guzzlers. The America’s Cup is for the privilege found on superyachts.

While enjoying the ambiance, fine catering, and satellite television from their floating mansions, superyachters bring the glamour the event craves, and now according to Tom Dillane of the New Zealand Herald, a COVID-19 loophole is busting the borders for these billionaire boats:

Our borders are closed and guarded by the military – but if you’ve got enough money you can get your superyacht and an international crew into the country courtesy of a boat repair loophole.

A Ministry of Health exemption is opening the border to superyachts provided they spend a “minimum dollar threshold” getting refitted or repaired in a New Zealand boat yard.

Their crew can also skip quarantine at a New Zealand managed isolation facility – meaning once a superyacht docked at Tahiti gets approval for repairs in Auckland they can count the eight-day sea journey here as quarantine time.

At least six superyachts and large vessels have entered New Zealand waters and docked here since the maritime border was closed on June 30 and about 20 more are waiting in Tahiti and the Mediterranean which have applied.

The only problem for the millionaire and billionaire yacht owners is they themselves can’t get in because they aren’t considered crew.

But it’s something the marine industry is campaigning hard to change before America’s Cup events begin in December.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) told the Herald the “New Zealand maritime border is closed to foreign vessels” and that “the closure applies equally to superyachts”.

But there are several exemptions for entry including “if ship has a compelling need for… carrying out a refit, refurbishment or repair that is more than minor”.

The MOH insisted: “The operative word in the above is ‘compelling’. The bar to qualify for an exemption is necessarily high, to avoid creating an unwanted ‘back door’ into New Zealand”.

However, within New Zealand’s marine industry, there is no doubt the exemption is being treated as business opportunity for agents, boat yards and ship builders brought to their knees financially after visiting millionaire yachties stopped arriving at Kiwi marinas after the border was closed.

Auckland superyachts agent Duthie Lidgard says “100 per cent” he is trying to get wealthy international boats here for the America’s Cup via the refit and repair exemption. Full report.


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) – WITHDRAWN
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAWN

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, however, it is unclear what entry payments have been made, nor is there knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team assembled.

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, 2020: 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

Youth America’s Cup Competition (CANCELLED)
• February 18-23, 2021
• March 1-5, 2021
• March 8-12, 2021

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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