Yachting: Team NZ has challenge cash

By Derek Cheng

Private sponsors have provided about $10m to allow syndicate to do preliminary work

Emirates Team New Zealand in the fog before races against Oracle Team USA. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Emirates Team New Zealand in the fog before races against Oracle Team USA. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Team New Zealand has pocketed about $10 million from private donors to keep it afloat and prepare it to mount a challenge for the next America's Cup.

A challenge had looked in doubt when, two weeks ago, chief executive Grant Dalton said Team NZ would be gone by the end of the month without an immediate multimillion-dollar cash injection from taxpayers.

But chairman Keith Turner announced yesterday that the team had secured enough private sponsorship to commit to a challenge.

"With the assistance of long-time supporters Sir Stephen Tindall, [Swiss-Italian millionaire businessman] Matteo de Nora and other private donors and sponsors, we are delighted to be able to say that we are funded through to late this year."

The Herald understands that the private sponsorship amounts to about $10 million.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the Government had already given Team NZ $5 million to cover a seven-month period while it decided whether to mount another challenge.

"What I didn't want to do was to advance, as requested, another $5 million at this stage, given that the taxpayers had already put in $5 million," he said.

It was time for the private sector to step up.

The Government contributed $36 million to Team NZ's last campaign, which ended in an 8-9 loss to Oracle in the closest America's Cup in history. An independent evaluation released in March this year showed a positive impact of $87 million on the New Zealand economy.

Dalton, in the spotlight after the Herald revealed he was paid an annual salary of about $2 million during the last challenge, said: "The funding support for the team that has coalesced over the past week means we can continue the design and engineering development, and keep racing, until main sponsorship funds begin to flow.

"To avoid falling behind the opposition, our design and engineering team has been working on the software tools they will need for the challenge.

"We now await the announcement of venue for the challengers' preliminary series and then the venue for the challengers' semifinals, finals and the America's Cup match, so that we can put the finishing touches to the team's business plan and present it to our backers for approval."

Mr Joyce said the Government expected to see the proposal within a few weeks.

He will be looking out for potential benefit for exporters.

He indicated that the Government could provide as much as it invested for the last challenge.

"Initially we said we'd be prepared to maybe go as far as last time, but it's too early to say at this point."

Entries for the 35th America's Cup close on August 8.

- NZ Herald

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