Will Team New Zealand lose their nation?

Published on March 30th, 2022

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When Alinghi won the 2003 America’s Cup in New Zealand, their Swiss home could not accommodate the event, so the hosting rights were bought by Valencia, Spain. When Oracle Team USA won the 2013 America’s Cup in the USA, they sought to leverage the event’s value, finding a high bidder in Bermuda.

So the precedent exists for the America’s Cup winner to not host the event on their home waters, but when Team New Zealand proposed to take it offshore, it felt different. No team had pursued the trophy longer, had a stronger fan base, and was more committed to the event’s ethos. Yet, the tradition of the winner defending on their home waters was not to be.

Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will hold the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona, Spain. A similarly sized population as their home of Auckland, Barcelona is roughly double that of Valencia, and is a massively popular tourist destination.

While the architecture, climate, and activities are an attraction, it is true what they say about the street crime. I have only been there once but our group was robbed within the first hour, so we also got to visit the police station and US Consulate. Yea!

“Be thankful for the bad things in life,” said the Curmudgeon. “For they opened your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before.”

It may be too early for New Zealanders to be thankful for watching their team take the America’s Cup offshore, and it may be optimistic for their supporters to stay faithful.

“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,” said Team COO Kevin Shoebridge. “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.”

However, the difference then for the Kiwi nation was the prospect of their team bringing the event home. That’s now gone, and more so, what the Kiwis have done may impact the faith of any challenger to bring the event home.

We witnessed the nation turn on Russell Coutts, Brad Butterworth, Murray Jones, Simon Daubney, Warwick Fleury, and Dean Phipps when Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli bought the core of Team New Zealand for his Alinghi campaign. Will New Zealanders now hold similar disdain for the team? Here’s some of the feedback:

Barry Kelliher:
I’ve been an NZ supporter for 35 years but that ends today. I watched every race by a TNZ in all of the challenge events, and finals, but that ends today. The prize for many supporters was not the win but the right to host the event. I’m done with them.

Joy Dickson:
Absolutely disgusted! The whole point of winning the Cup is the right to hold the regatta in your own country. New Zealand has poured millions into this event and team over the years. With the rebuild of the viaduct in Auckland and the downturn in international visitors over the past couple of years, we as a country could have really done with the boost to our tourism, cafes, and restaurants. NZ yachting, shame on you. It’s all about money. You have totally lost me and so many friends and family. Greed, pure selfish greed.

Sandy Johnston:
BUGGAR! So TNZ have chosen to go to Barcelona instead of keeping the AC here … well, they have now lost me as a supporter – I HAD been saving up all my small change, so that I could actually go up to Auckland and watch a race – they priced themselves out of the market by following the golden coins…. I’m not amused at all, so I’m now off to buy me a new car instead with my money – seeing as their egos won’t allow them to come back to our shores – I wish you well boys, but you will lose the AC this time around…

Harkness Rodger:
A huge blow for every tax paying New Zealander. This is how our support is repaid? Perhaps from the millions extra they earn, some could come back to the government to help pay for health and education. Very disappointed. Will never be New Zealand’s cup.

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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