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Kevin Shoebridge: Bring on the paella

Published on March 29th, 2022

It was a chilly day in Barcelona as America’s Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand confirmed the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region would be hosting the 37th America’s Cup.

The Defender had planned to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed, promising to confirm by March 31, 2022. They beat that by a day (NZT), and Scuttlebutt editor Craig Leweck caught up with the Team COO Kevin Shoebridge for insight into the process:

About the bidding:
We initially received about 30 inquiries of interest which was culled down to a smaller group, and over the past four or five months we’d been working with four or five venues. The quality of the prospects were very pleasing, with the interest really heating up over the past three weeks.

Host requirements:
We set a criteria of what we were looking for, such variables as sea conditions, wind conditions, infrastructure, plus wanting to expose the Cup to a bigger audience. All these were taken into account, and when we look at Barcelona, the city presents itself as a great facility.

Everything is in place. The sea conditions look ideal and there’s really good public access with the course right off the beach. And more than anything, there’s a group of people in Barcelona that are highly motivated to get behind the event and make the best of it.

Lessons from Auckland 2021:
Possibly the highest priority in our selection process was the ability for public engagement, making sure people could easily view the course. That was our goal in Auckland, and while some of the races didn’t work out that way, the bulk of them were inshore along North Head which provided an amazing setting. All the venues that we’d been inspecting had that ability.

One and done:
For sure there have been some issues in the past with cities wanting to host for a second time. It was unfortunate for Auckland in 2021 as the health regulations kept it from being at full capacity, which was a real blow in the city’s ability to maximize the opportunity. And while we weren’t involved in Valencia, there remained a bit of a hangover after 2007 (ed, click here). So for Barcelona, it is up to us to make sure that this proves to be a beneficial partnership.

Financial terms:
The host prefers not to reveal the arrangement, so it is not our place to comment on it. However, we set a budget and criteria that we had to meet, and all the finalists had reached that, of which we were quite grateful.

Leaving the homeland:
This has been a big topic of discussion for the past nine months, but the truth is how the team is composed of New Zealanders, we love sailing in New Zealand, and we would have dearly loved to have defended again in New Zealand. But in the end, the most important issue for us was the team.

Our priority was to make sure we can put forth a viable defense to win the Cup again, and we couldn’t make that work in Auckland so we had to go elsewhere.

We do hope our home fans remain committed to us as they have in the past when we witnessed loyal supporters that have followed us through our many challenges. This was so apparent when we raced in Valencia, San Francisco, and Bermuda and had had a great following, so we are hopeful the true fans will stay with us again.

Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. 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 was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on by March 30, 2022.

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