Kiwis change tune about Bermuda’s worthiness
The leader of Emirates Team New Zealand, which hopes to regain the America's Cup in Bermuda in three years' time, believes the location will not harm the Kiwis' chances of success.
In a statement released early yesterday, chief executive Grant Dalton said Bermuda's selection ahead of San Diego, “despite what many pessimists had said”, would not be a serious setback for the team.
“As we have made plain, West Coast USA looked like a better option for us,” he said. “It's only 12 hours from New Zealand and a large market for our sponsors and New Zealand businesses.
“When it became apparent that Bermuda's bid was favoured, we stepped up our analysis of Bermuda as a venue both in operational terms and for the opportunities it might provide for our sponsors, suppliers and New Zealand Inc to leverage their involvement with the team.
“We were encouraged by what we learned. Operationally, Bermuda is by far a better place to sail. Unlike San Diego, there's usually a good sea breeze, plenty of space for the racecourse area and more waterfront space is available for teams to set up bases.”
The New Zealand Government had expressed reservations about the choice of Bermuda, which was leaked to the media two weeks before today's official announcement in New York.
They confirmed yesterday that Bermuda “was a far less attractive America's Cup proposition for public funding as they await Team New Zealand's business plan”.
The Government contributed $36 million when Emirates Team Zealand suffered a heartbreaking loss to Oracle Team USA in San Francisco last year.
Already they have given the New Zealand team $5 million for the new campaign.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce admitted last weekend that it would be harder to justify funding of Team New Zealand if Bermuda were to host the regatta.
According to The New Zealand Herald, there was also concern that it could be a potential death knell for commercially funded teams such as New Zealand's, with the limited market in Bermuda making it difficult to attract sponsorship.
“The drums have been beating for the last couple of weeks and Bermuda's not our preference — we've been pretty clear about that,” Joyce said yesterday.
He was reluctant to say Government sponsorship was a “no-go” until he had seen a proposal, but a decision had to be made quickly.
“We'd obviously need that information as quickly as reasonably possible and then we'd be in a position to make a final call and Team New Zealand would then have the information about where they go in terms of their other sponsors.
“My understanding is they've been preparing two proposals — one based on Bermuda and one on San Diego.
“I'm assuming the Bermuda one will come flying towards us fairly quickly now and the added part of it will be the Auckland element,” Joyce said. “I'm assuming they'll want to lay that out.
“Bermuda may make it for some sponsors and less attractive for others, and that's something they'll work through undoubtedly.
“Bermuda's closer to Europe time zones, so there'll be some sponsors that would consider it more beneficial to be involved in a Europe-centric time zone than, say, the West Coast of the United States.
“It's just that it's not the case for us, that's all.”
However, there is some consolation for the Kiwis with New Zealand expected to be named as one of the venues for the World Series, regarded as a warm-up to the America's Cup.
Harvey Schiller, the America's Cup commercial commissioner, revealed he had received a “serious proposal” from Emirates Team New Zealand to host a World Series event.
Dalton confirmed the team had put together a proposal to the America's Cup Events Authority about events in New Zealand and discussions were “proceeding favourably”.
He said: “Details must remain confidential for now; we hope we can say much more before the end of the year.”