Should we stay or should we go

Published on December 6th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When Larry Ellison moved the America’s Cup from San Francisco to Bermuda in 2017, it was because he could. The City politicians weren’t willing to meet his financial demands, and Ellison controlled the Golden Gate Yacht Club. The membership of his team’s club had no sway.

Sure, people weren’t happy, but support for Ellison had always been mixed. As much as he’d done to heighten awareness of the America’s Cup, he is not an endearing character, and begging billionaires draw little sympathy. My ball, my game. See ya!

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton doesn’t have the same luxury. Kiwi’s love the team, and his club is proud and prominent. When Auckland didn’t meet his financial demands, Dalton went offshore looking for a host venue that would contribute to a winning defense budget.

Dalton has an agreement with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron that shields the club from liability. While this puts Dalton in charge, the proud Kiwis are conflicted. Support the man that reinvigorated a team embarrassed in 2003, or demand not to be embarrassed by another city that hosts their event.

This is a fight that has local politicians on the sidelines. The Kiwi government has shown their resolve during the coronavirus pandemic, angering the public as they seek to protect them. Frustration about a rich man’s regatta isn’t going to bend their tree.

No, this is about Dalton convincing the membership that winning is more important that hosting at home. This is about pride and frustration for why the home team created a regatta they say they now can’t afford. This is about threat as Kiwis outside team walls seek to control their destiny.

The only upside may be for the challengers as they witness distractions the defender endures. They may even be cheering for the defender. If the challengers publically support an Auckland event, they privately hope for an offshore host. No Kiwi fans, better proximity, bigger markets, more willing government.

With a decision deadline of March 31, here are some updates from New Zealand sources:

• Grant Dalton’s claims that Team New Zealand will collapse within six months if the America’s Cup defense is held in Auckland are ludicrous, says Kiwi Home Defense spokesperson Mark Dunphy. – Full report

• A special meeting due this week seeking to hold the next defense of the America’s Cup in home waters has been called off by the group of yacht squadron members opposing an offshore regatta. – Full report

• Efforts to maintain the defense of the America’s Cup in Auckland will continue unabated and in particular Team NZ will continue to be challenged to justify its position that the funding of the Event here is not viable. – Full report

• Much has been played out in the media in an orchestrated PR campaign by Mark Dunphy. Despite hopeful beginnings, on discovering Mr Dunphy’s sinister activities and clues to his true agenda ETNZ cut off all engagement with him. As a result we have had no intention of being drawn into a meaningless and ugly media argument with him. – Full report

Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, the entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender is to announce Match Venue and approximate event dates on March 31, 2022. –

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