America’s Cup defender earning back home love

Published on May 18th, 2023

The news of America’s Cup defender Emirates Team New Zealand purchasing ten Elliott 7s for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron youth program should be seen as a generous gesture, but as it comes on the heels of negative press, is it also strategic?

With recent reminders of how the Kiwi team moved the 37th edition to Spain (because they needed money), reneged on hosting a preliminary event at club waters, and sold hosting rights to a country – Saudi Arabia – with the worst human rights record in the modern world, the team could do well to earn back some love from their nation.

Here is the team’s press release on May 18, 2023:

Emirates Team New Zealand is directly investing in the future of New Zealand’s world class sailing talent by purchasing a renewed fleet of ten Elliott 7 yachts for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s Mastercard Youth Training Program and Performance Programs which have long been globally regarded as world leading Youth Training for performance keel boat sailors.

The RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training scheme is now in its 36th year, starting in 1987 and has had over 1200 sailors graduate through the program in this time. It has produced a long list of some of the world’s top sailors, most recently the likes of 2022 Open Match Racing World Champion Nick Egnot-Johnson and Celia Willison, second in the 2022 Women’s Match Racing World Championship, who are among many graduates carving a successful path on the international stage.

The investment by Emirates Team New Zealand is a continuation of its support of the development of youth sailing with its representative yacht club over the years.

“This program is one of the cornerstones of the development of New Zealand sailing talent, it is the pathway from teenage enthusiasts to high performance sailors in New Zealand, and around the world,” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton. “And it has been this way for many years. So, we are happy to be able to continue to support it by refreshing the fleet of Elliott 7s, the legacy of which will go well beyond the physical boats themselves.”

RNZYS Vice Commodore Gillian Williams is thrilled to be prioritizing and continuing the Mastercard Youth Sailing Programme through this investment by Emirates Team New Zealand.

“The Mastercard Youth Training Program and the RNZYS Performance Program have been hugely successful for well over 30 years now. It is a significant foundation of the club, its growth, and its future. So, by doing this we can fully commit to and endorse the long-term advancement of the programs and supporting the pathway from kids to young adults by promoting excellence in sailing ability and importantly our focus on building good people through their development in sailing.”

RNZYS Commodore Andrew Aitken added, “I am absolutely delighted by the investment that Emirates Team New Zealand are making to support these programs and offerings of our club. The enduring legacy of this new fleet – The Team New Zealand Elliott 7s , will shape the future sailors of today and tomorrow.”

The Elliott 7s have proven to be an ideal and reliable all-round performing boat for the RNZYS Youth Training Programm, Learn to Sail Programs, Kids Programs, Outreach Programs, and Corporate programs for the past 13 years so are in need of an upgrade when considering the next generation of sailors wanting to grow their competitive sailing to the highest level.

The Elliott 7s class designer Greg Elliott has been a significant advocate for the RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training Program from its inception in 1987. Elliott will project manage the supply and commissioning of the new fleet for the RNZYS, which is expected to be delivered in February 2024 where RNZYS Performance Sailing Manager Zak Merton will manage the respective training and racing programs, himself a graduate of the Mastercard Youth Training Program and Performance Program.

“The skills and connections I developed through the programme have played a key role in my success and allowed me to travel the world pursuing my passion,” noted Merton. “Now, as the Performance Sailing Manager and head coach for both the Mastercard Youth Training Program and the Performance Program here at the RNZYS, I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue to grow the program from the already high level it has achieved. The support of Emirates Team New Zealand to provide us a new fleet of Elliotts is absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to get the teams out training and sailing on these boats next year!”

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 March 30, 2022. The 37th America’s Cup will be held in September/October 2024.

Teams revealed to challenge defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
INEOS Britannia (GBR)
Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
NYYC American Magic (USA)
K-Challenge Racing (FRA)

Preliminary Regattas
September 14-17, 2023 (AC40) – Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain
November 30-December 3 (AC40) – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
August 2024 (AC75) – Barcelona, Spain

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