A petition to try to force Team New Zealand to defend the America's Cup in Auckland has been withdrawn after reports that the team's boss warned it could mean the syndicate collapses.
This Thursday the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron was due to hold both its annual general meeting and a special general meeting where members would vote on a motion calling for the defence to be held in the waters adjacent to Auckland.
The meeting was forced after a group of more than 30 full RNZYS members signed a petition requisitioning a vote.
But on Monday Jim Farmer QC, who spent a decade on the board of Team New Zealand but since appears to have a difficult relationship with its chief executive, Grant Dalton, announced he had formally withdrawn the notice.
"The NZ Herald last Saturday reported that Grant Dalton had been calling RNZYS members who had signed the Requisition and persuaded some of them to withdraw their signatures on the basis that if the Motion was passed Team New Zealand would be put into liquidation and the Squadron would be left without a team to continue a defence," Farmer said in a statement.
"Given that position, I felt it incumbent on me as the representative of those members who had signed the Requisition in good faith to go back to them and advise them that, in my view, there was a real prospect that the SGM would be undermined by the threats made."
On Saturday the Herald reported that Dalton had been calling those who signed the petition calling for the venue vote, warning them that not only would Team New Zealand lose the America's Cup, that he believed the syndicate could collapse within months.
In a statement, RNZYS commodore Aaron Young confirmed the SGM had been cancelled.
"We have seen the numbers of the SGM petitioners regularly falling off over the past few weeks as factual information has been dispersed to members. So it is not surprising to see the motion and the SGM withdrawn today," Young said.
There "will still be an opportunity for our members to raise or discuss any of the matters relating to AC37 during our scheduled AGM," Young said.
Mark Dunphy, the multi-millionaire businessman leading a group trying to keep the America's Cup in New Zealand, Kiwi Home Defence, said Dalton's claims were ludicrous.
"The claim the team will collapse and go into liquidation within six months if they are required to defend the cup here is just outrageous," Dunphy said in a statement on Saturday.
"Team New Zealand successfully defended the Cup in Auckland just eight months ago in the middle of a pandemic. To suggest they couldn't do it again in 2024 is quite ridiculous and simply illustrates Grant Dalton will say or do anything to avoid holding the defence here."
In a written statement last week, Dalton confirmed he had been speaking to people who signed the petition. When directly asked about suggesting Team New Zealand would collapse if the America's Cup was held in Auckland, he did not deny it.
"The stark reality is that an underfunded defender forced to compete against a fully funded challenger that has come through a rigorous elimination series will lose, and lose badly. Emirates Team New Zealand's sole objective is to win the America's Cup, not just to participate," he said.
Farmer said the withdrawal of the notice did not mean the group behind the petition would cease efforts to keep the America's Cup in New Zealand.
"Efforts to maintain the Defence of the America's Cup in Auckland will continue unabated and in particular Team NZ will continue to be challenged to justify its position that the funding of the Event here is not viable."