Maybe the emperor has no clothes

Published on September 16th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
So we begin with the positive. New Zealand, after their shocking America’s Cup defeat in 2013, retooled into a champion for 2017 and 2021. Not easy, particularly as defender. More so, they introduced the AC75 that was widely mocked as an insect, but turned out to be a cheetah.

Props also to Auckland for navigating the pandemic to host the 36th America’s Cup. No postponements; they stayed the course. It wasn’t what they had visualized, but welcome to the club. COVID-19 had that effect on all of us.

All good, but where are we now? With an America’s Cup few can afford.

Ironically, the Kiwi team, which created the format, is standing first in the bread line. They need money and have been dangling the hosting rights to fund their effort. Auckland’s offer came short, they said, so the choice was to lose at home or have a chance to win offshore.

But for a team that galvanized a nation with its effort, is that still winning?

The problem with the America’s Cup is history. When you win, you bring the event home, which eliminates leverage. How do you get maximum value without competing offers? For the 2013 event, Larry Ellison sent his henchmen to Newport to squeeze San Francisco for the best deal. Kiwi CEO Grant Dalton is just doing the same.

However, Ellison’s team didn’t have a national connection. The crew was full of foreigners, and he was no beloved figure. But San Francisco blinked, with then Mayor Gavin Newsom agreeing to a deal that would later haunt the City. Yes, same guy that’s the California Governor who just survived a recall election.

More so, with Valencia (2007, 2010), San Francisco (2013), and Auckland (2021) all finding they overpaid for the hosting rights, Dalton may be struggling to sell what is often repeated as a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity to host the third biggest sporting event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

Maybe the emperor has no clothes.

With efforts to gain riches in Ireland all but gone, interest from Spain getting shuffled, and Saudi Arabia viewed unfavorably, Auckland may be back in the game. Private funding to augment the Kiwi government offer has gained momentum. A newly launched website gives wind to the sails.

With the venue announcement expected on September 17, will this puff carry the Kiwi nation over the finish line. Standing by.

UPDATE: Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron together with Emirates Team New Zealand have announced they are extending the venue selection deadline. – Full Report

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