New Zealand’s government has provided what has been described as an “interim investment” of US$5 million to Emirates Team New Zealand, the country’s defeated America’s Cup outfit, as it prepares the ground for its next challenge. The initial sum will be used by the team to retain key personnel, including designers and sailors, and run the administrative side of the organisation as it seeks the additional private funding which will be required to fund another challenge.
Following its dramatic defeat to Oracle Team USA last month, when the American team recovered from 8-1 down to take a winner-takes-all deciding race, another challenge from the New Zealand team had been considered unlikely.
However, the swell of support received by the team on its return to New Zealand and the success of trade and business missions relating to the America’s Cup are thought to have played a part in economic development minister Steven Joyce’s decision to back another grab for the Auld Mug.
Local reports, however, suggested the figure pledged was slightly lower than the US$6.5 million the team was looking for at the initial stage. Joyce did not rule out additional public funding should the team formally decide to challenge.
“The extent of the enthusiastic reception when we arrived back in New Zealand was both unexpected and encouraging and an incentive to challenge again,” confirmed Grant Dalton, the managing director of the team. “We have been talking informally to existing and potential sponsors. We will begin to develop a business plan and sponsorship proposals so that we can start calling on them from next month.”
Although the protocol for the 35th America’s Cup is not expected to be released by Oracle’s Larry Ellison and the Golden Gate Yacht Club until early next year, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported that Dalton and other members of the New Zealand team will shortly travel to Europe to begin negotiations with key sponsors from the 35th Cup, notably title partner Emirates.
The total government investment in the team for the 34th Cup was believed to have reached US$36 million, amounting to one third of its total budget.