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Clock ticking for next America’s Cup

Published on June 10th, 2021

by Duncan Johnstone, STUFF media
Sailors, politicians, and lawyers make up the modern mix of the America’s Cup and the three groups look to be jockeying for a way forward in a critical phase that will determine where the next regatta is destined.

It’s the final week of the negotiation phase between the government and Cup defender Team New Zealand around how Auckland can host the next version of yachting’s pinnacle event, building on what was a hugely successful 2021 regatta amid unprecedented global difficulties.

Whispers that the next government and Auckland City contributions don’t stack up won’t go away, meaning the Cup could, indeed, go away and be defended offshore.

They’ve grown so loud that now there is apparent mutiny in the air with talk of some influential members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron weighing up a legal challenge to prevent that happening.

They appear prepared to test the rule in the centuries-old paperwork that says the Cup belongs to the challenging club, not the team – as in the RNZYS rather than Team New Zealand.

A hint of revolution amongst the evolution of sport’s oldest trophy.

Cloak and dagger drama is never far from the Auld Mug and the cone of silence that has enveloped proceedings since the Kiwis defended the Cup in mid-March has only heightened public tensions around where the next cycle will take place.

There should be no real surprise if Auckland is snubbed. It’s the preferred venue for Team New Zealand though they have been open about courting overseas offers without revealing where the alternatives may lie though the drums keep beating for Britain.

The defenders have been just as open about their need to protect the champion team and the syndicate’s intellectual property, which requires considerable funding given the billionaire benefactors they see their rivals across their bow enjoy.

But without the team, which have more than proven their worth on comparatively tight budgets in this expensive game, there is no Cup. They need to stay afloat in these toughest of financial times or risk what could be a terminal capsize.

The current version grew from the ashes of the champion 1995 and 2000 teams that were plundered, leaving them so vulnerable in 2003. It took Team New Zealand three attempts and 14 long years to win back the America’s Cup.

Would there be the will and resources for another resurrection if the next defense falls flat? These are delicate times, but the outcome may not be unprecedented.

Larry Ellison took the show on the road after his Oracle Team USA saw off the Kiwis in San Francisco in 2013. Bermuda beckoned though many at his Golden Gate Yacht Club were bemused by that, just as Kiwis are now at the prospect of something similar.

Team New Zealand don’t have the benefit of Ellison’s billions. Beggars can’t be choosers, as the saying goes, and the ultimate decision may not really beggar belief.

The innovative syndicate are taking a futuristic approach with their radical racing yachts and hydrogen-powered chase boats. But they can’t foil away from their financial future.


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