No Cup win without Dalton

Published on September 1st, 2021

Sir Stephen Tindall says Team New Zealand won’t win the America’s Cup without Grant Dalton in charge. Tindall, a long time sponsor and the recently retired Team New Zealand chairman, and one of the country’s most respected businessmen and public figures, has voiced strong support for Dalton amidst calls for him to be removed over the current hosting process.

Rich-lister Mark Dunphy, CEO and chairman of Greymouth petroleum, claims he has a consortium of donors with the money to fund a Team New Zealand defence at home, but that is dependent on Dalton not being involved.

Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron are set to name on September 17 where the next regatta will be held, and are expected to take it overseas after failing to strike a satisfactory deal with the government and Auckland.

Tindall told Stuff he found the attack on Dalton extraordinary after his period in charge where Team New Zealand have made two challenger finals and won the America’s Cup twice after the team had sunk to an all-time low with their shambolic Auckland loss in 2003.

“I would stand by Grant every time,” Tindall told Stuff. “I have known him for a long time, worked alongside him, backed him for many years, he is the guy, along with the team and the culture he has created, that is a winner. I truly don’t’ believe we could defend the America’s Cup again without him. He’s definitely got the x-factor that the team needs, without a doubt in my mind.”

Sir Stephen Tindall has been a passionate supporter of Team New Zealand and worked alongside Grant Dalton as a director and chairman from 2013 to 2021. Tindall, on the board of Team New Zealand since 2013, stepped aside after the successful defense this year. He says the syndicate can’t afford to lose the knowledge Dalton has of the treacherous conditions and maneuverings that come with the Cup game.

“There wouldn’t be another person you could put in to replace Grant that would cut it for the team to win, I really believe he has to be there,” Tindall said. Tindall feared any potential court action to stall the hosting process could be catastrophic for the defenders.

“It’s sad times because potentially what got published today could potentially sink Team New Zealand. If the New York Supreme Court says it has to be in New Zealand and the only way we can get the money is through Mr. Dunphy, he controls everything,” Tindall said, fearing the demise of syndicate’s winning culture.

Tindall said he met with Dunphy to listen to his plans. “I thought initially it was a genuine effort to try to keep the Cup in New Zealand, and I reiterated to him that I’ve always been about helping fund the team to stay in New Zealand, that’s the whole reason I have been involved with the team for many years – to bring it home and then to defend it at home.”

Tindall said in their discussions Dunphy indicated he didn’t want change in the team’s structures. “Here we are today, showing his true colors, (saying) Dalton has to go. Mr. Dunphy seems to have a number of what you would call very rich New Zealanders who are reported to be backing him, who don’t get on with Grant, who would not put the money in if Grant was still running the team. That is thing that really does cause an issue.”

Stuff attempts to contact Dunphy since his attack on Dalton have proven fruitless. Tindall said he had experienced first-hand the difficulties of raising funds for Team New Zealand, a situation complicated by the world’ current health crisis. “I would absolutely love to have it here,” Tindall said. “If the right amount of money came Team New Zealand’s way, I’m absolutely certain they would take the money and stay.

“But if it is under the sort of conditions that sound like they are being leveled at the team, which is dump your leader and basically work under our control.” Tindall felt people needed to be realistic. If the funds couldn’t be raised here and there was a good offer from offshore that paid for most of the bills to win the Cup again, “then it’s a no-brainer”.

Dalton’s street-fighting skills will need to come to the fore now that he has an open local adversary. Tindall said people were wrong to question Dalton’s integrity while his passion, loyalty and work ethic had to be admired.

“I have heard people say that they felt that Grant had become an incredibly wealthy man as a result of running Team New Zealand. I can tell you as a chair of the organization that is absolutely not true,” Tindall insisted. “Grant did inherit a lot of money, he is totally independently wealthy. Whether people are jealous of him for that reason, I don’t know.”

Tindall admitted Dalton’s style didn’t sit comfortably with everyone. “He has made a few enemies, we have had a few ding-dongs with people, he doesn’t hold back if somebody is staying in his way.

“But he is the most honest person. Obviously when we went through that inquiry last year with MBIE, some of those ridiculous accusations that were leveled to him personally, he was able to disprove them in the blink of an eye.

“Look, it’s not a personal motive for him in terms of ego or anything. He wants, and always has wanted, to leave the team in a better state than when he found it. It was in really bad shape in 2003. He has always wanted to do the right thing for the country.

“He could easily have done what I did and retired after the last Cup. But he has hung in there because he wants to get it on a real even footing again, so it has every chance of winning again. He is not doing it for selfish reasons and I can tell you he has worked at it seven days a week, 12 hours a day, working his butt off as he always does.

“He has tremendous loyalty in the team. It’s a very good team culture, you don’t win the America’s Cup twice in a row unless the whole team is pulling together and the culture is right. The last thing we want after this brilliant win in Auckland is to see what happened in 2003 when we didn’t have the right culture in the team. Things weren’t right and as a result we lost.”

Tindall described the crucial relationship between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Team New Zealand – a partnership that could be tested in court – as “absolutely rock solid”.

Source: Duncan Johnstone, stuff.co.nz

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