America's Cup: Team NZ shut out of meeting with challengers

Oracle boss Larry Ellison holds aloft the America's Cup. Photo / Getty Images
Oracle boss Larry Ellison holds aloft the America's Cup. Photo / Getty Images

Team New Zealand have been told to stay away from a meeting in London next week between potential challengers and America's Cup holders Oracle Team USA.

Representatives from Luna Rossa, Artemis, Ben Ainslie Racing and a French challenge are set to meet with Oracle and America's Cup organisers on Tuesday to discuss details of the next regatta in 2017. It follows a joint statement issued by the four European teams last week, in which they reiterated their support for their event and intent to enter regardless of venue.

After a week of bruising publicity the release was a boost for Oracle, helping quell suggestion the challengers would band together and attempt to hold the event to ransom following the withdrawal of the original challenger of record, Team Australia.

Emirates Team New Zealand was a notable absentee from the press release - a move that has angered head of the America's Cup Events Authority, Russell Coutts.

Coutts told the Associated Press the Defender wants to work with the teams "to further define an event based on the published protocol"and when he heard from another team that the Kiwis didn't want to want to proceed on that basis, "I rang them up and said, 'It's best that you not come.'"

While Team New Zealand will not be involved in the competitors' meeting, their intent to enter the next event is not in question. The team have indicated they will challenge for the 35th America's Cup and will be able to meet the US$1m entry fee before the August 8 deadline.

It is understood only two challengers - Luna Rossa and Artemis - have officially entered at this stage, with the Italians rumoured to be the next challenger of record as the first team to submit their entry.

The challenger of record is responsible for negotiating the Protocol that governs the next event, and given it was Luna Rossa that took the lead in issuing the joint statement last week in support of the event, it looks unlikely there will be any major changes to the existing rules signed off by Team Australia.

- AP

- NZ Herald

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