Boaties are bracing to be kicked out of Auckland marinas for the 2021 America's Cup as an influx of super yachts, each slated to spend millions in New Zealand, are likely given priority to "maximise revenue".
With 160 super yachts and a further 100 medium-sized boats projected to enter the Hauraki Gulf for the Cup, Auckland boaties are already looking for new moorings as far away as Whangārei marina for the 2020/21 summer.
Prime Auckland berths in the Viaduct and Silo Marinas will cost a minimum of $21,850 a month over the competition period between October 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021.
A 40-metre super yacht will pay $35,650 per month for a berth, not including GST, plus an average of $1000 per day in power and water.
But the decision about who will receive a berth is causing consternation for Auckland boaties - as most Auckland marinas are at capacity over summer.
An online expression of interest process for Viaduct and Silo is under way until August 1, to be judged by Auckland Council's land management company Panuku Development, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and the Crown.
Despite assurances consideration will be given to long-term berth holders, some boaties fear priority will be given to international super yachts estimated to spend $2.72 million each during their America's Cup visit.
An email from Viaduct Marina manager John Matla to an Auckland boatie moored in that marina with his family, admitted there was a financial agenda in berth allocation.
"There is a contractual agreement in place between Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ)/Panuku/America's Cup Events/Crown, under which berthage rates for the period have been set, and the parties have agreed that maximising revenue from this period is the objective, to be able to achieve return on the infrastructure investment," Matla said.
"We, as the marina operator, are going to have very little say in who gets berthage over this period."
Matla said ETNZ "has first right of veto on any berthage before it is offered".
Jason Agnew lives aboard his 28-metre boat moored in the Viaduct Marina with his girlfriend and 8-month-old son Finn Agnew, and believes he will not be allocated a berth for the six-month America's Cup period.
"I believe priority will be given to overseas visitors who, unlike us, are apparently going to be spending a lot of money," Agnew said.
"So the revenue's a lot more important, which is a bit short sighted because we have a long-term impact, they have a short-term impact.
"The consultation period was very quick and very short, and I believe zero consideration was given to local berth holders."
Agnew said his options, if he was not given a berth in the Viaduct were to sell his boat, live at anchor in the harbour and transport their son via dinghy to the shore, or relocate from Auckland.
Whangārei Marina said they had already received at least 10 inquiries from Auckland boat owners for the 2020/21 summer - but said they did not allocate further than one summer ahead, and were typically at capacity anyway.
When Panuku was contacted by the Herald on its berth allocation priorities, "maximising revenue" was not mentioned by marina manager John Matla.
"Our existing customers have been aware that the area is changing and that berthage will be at a premium over the period of the regatta. They are aware that they may need to relocate," Matla said.
Matla also noted that the prices for berths, at $25 per metre, per day, was still significantly less than the Valencia and Bermuda America's Cup where yachties were charged three times as much, at NZ$76 per metre, per day.
In a statement to the Weekend Herald, ETNZ said it had an "obligation" to take into account "the Crown's interest in attracting investors to New Zealand".
"ETNZ is seeking to protect the interests of all stakeholders and ensure that there is a mixture of boats from both competing teams and long-term berth holders also."
A boat-based tourism business operating out of the Viaduct also told the Herald it was under the impression it would not receive a berth during the six months of the America's Cup - despite operating there for more than 10 years.
NZ Marine director Peter Busfield said it was estimated 160 super yachts, spending $2.72 million on average each in New Zealand, and 100 medium-sized boats, would arrive in the Hauraki Gulf for the America's Cup.
While acknowledging some charter boats would be displaced from Viaduct and Silo marinas, Busfield said the 25-metre-plus berths in those marinas which would be targeted by international super yachts would not displace the average Auckland boatie.
"If you own a 10-metre boat you will not want to go in a 30-metre berth because you'll be paying [excess]," Busfield said.
"Yes there will be some competition among NZ super yachts but there are less than 10 or so of those.
"Some of the charter boat operators in the Viaduct have been ousted, and they've had to go to Bayswater Marina, Half Moon Bay, and other places. So yes that will be a choking point.
"And it will displace other vessels, and there is a chronic shortage of berths in Auckland."
Viaduct and Silo marinas were at capacity for the past summer. Adjacent Westhaven Marina has been at full capacity for several years for boats over 14 metres.
However, Westhaven Marina manager Kevin Lidgard said Panuku was also working on adding 117 new berths to the north eastern corner of the marina - hopefully by the America's Cup.