Will it be Auckland’s last America’s Cup?
Published on February 16th, 2021
by Todd Niall, STUFF
If you are a fan of, or even mildly intrigued by the America’s Cup, then make the most of Auckland’s hosting of the 2021 event because for the first time ever, there’s a chance it may leave – even if Team New Zealand wins.
It has been a given, in New Zealand’s 35 years chasing international sport’s oldest trophy, that winning the cup wins the event. Then, back it comes to the home port – in our case, Auckland.
Only a week ago I joked, after scoffing at rumors that Team New Zealand might take a future defense offshore, that I might end up having to walk down Queen St wearing a dunce’s hat.
In fact, we are at a crossroad, where if Team New Zealand wins the clash of the foiling monohulls in March, the country – and Auckland – must decide how much it values a changing sport in a changing world.
Auckland has been transformed by the America’s Cup. After leading Team New Zealand to its first win in 1995, Sir Peter Blake drove the “cup village” concept which created the Viaduct Harbor out of a scruffy industrial waterfront backyard.
The influx of the wealthy and their boats for the defenses in 2000 and 2003 helped build the country’s export marine industry, until exchange rates sidelined the superyacht building part of that sector.
Adding cup defenses to Auckland’s long-standing role as the half-way stopover in round-the-world races turned into a crowd-pleasing “home” for big global sailing events, with the economic activity that brought.
We liked to think of Team New Zealand as a national team, representing the team of (now) five million.
But the reality is coming home to roost. The biggest name in America’s Cup’s modern history is not public property, it is a private entity that exists because of largely foreign sponsorship – and that’s a tough gig.
The days of funding the event entirely separately from the sailing team which owns it, seem to be over.
Team New Zealand’s head since 2003, Grant Dalton, is focused on ensuring the team survives against well-heeled rivals. The value of the event that it owns may in future have to help fund the sailing campaign. – Full report
The PRADA Cup is a series of four round robins (Jan. 15-17 and Jan. 22-24), with the winner of the series qualifying for the PRADA Cup Final and the remaining two Challengers going into a Semi-Final Series (Jan. 29-Feb. 2) for the right to join the Round Robin winner in the Final (Feb. 13–22). The first team in the Final to win seven races earns entry to face the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the America’s Cup Match beginning March 6.