Will this be Kiwi desertion 2.0?

Published on October 13th, 2021

As a small and remote island nation, opportunity does not always knock too loudly for the five million that call New Zealand home. So when Ernesto Bertarelli came knocking after New Zealand defended in the 2000 America’s Cup, key Kiwi team members Russell Coutts, Brad Butterworth, Warwick Fleury, Murray Jones, and Simon Daubney answered the door.

The fab five were critical for the new Swiss challenge which went on to win in their first try at the 2003 America’s Cup, but the moment also launched a significant shift in pay scale. Experienced sailors were cashing in, forever heightening the cost to compete in the America’s Cup.

Is Bertarelli knocking on the door again? Duncan Johnstone of STUFF media reports:

Team New Zealand stars Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are yet to sign on for the defense of the America’s Cup. Burling and Tuke arrived home from a lengthy stint in Asia and Europe on October 13 and confirmed to Stuff their Cup future was still to be determined.

This came as there was speculation of them linking with a rival syndicate. One source, who claimed to have knowledge of the situation, raised the possibility of another raid by Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli who is tipped to return to the Cup scene after winning it in 2003 and 2007 with key Team New Zealand talent.

Burling, skipper for the successful defense of the Auld Mug in Auckland this year, and Tuke, flight controller for Team New Zealand, said they had not signed with another team and were seeking clarity over the next America’s Cup before making commitments.

“It’s been a busy year. Since AC36 we’ve been overseas dedicated to representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games and a big European leg with the NZL SailGP Team, as well as continuing our work with Live Ocean,” the pair said in a statement to Stuff.

“We’re supportive of Team New Zealand management’s efforts to ensure a successful defense of the America’s Cup and respect the complexities the next event will bring in a post-COVID world.

“As you can appreciate, we’d like clarity on the fundamentals of the event before we commit. We’re in regular conversation with the team as the process is worked through.”

The next America’s Cup remains in limbo with Team New Zealand delaying a hosting decision as they weigh up offshore offers against a backdrop of struggles to host the event again in Auckland. – Full report

Editor’s note: This is another reason for Team New Zealand to keep the America’s Cup in Auckland. If they take the event offshore, what loyalty remains for the sailors that keeps them from reaching for riches?

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