A boatie is accusing Auckland Council of a lack of compassion after being refused a refund on a $22,000 bond to secure a berth for next year's America's Cup.
Jason Agnew's 28m boat has been moored in Viaduct marina for 19 years, and he reluctantly agreed to pay the $22,000-a-month for the five months of the 2021 America's Cup.
The Auckland business owner lives on his boat in the marina with partner Roisin Crummey, and 1-year-old son Finn.
In November 2019, Agnew paid a $22,165 bond to Auckland Council-owned company Panuku to secure his berth over the summer of 2020-21.
While extremely angry with the over four-fold increase in his usual $5000-a-month rent for his berth, Agnew was at least consoled he would be front and centre to watch the 36th America's Cup from November this year through to March.
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As doubts grew over the size of the event Agnew last month asked for the return of his bond. He felt the spectator audience caused by Covid-19 border restrictions would be greatly reduced.
Panuku, which manages the waterfront asset, flatly refused.
"Where the **** is the compassion? I've had two conversations with them and I've sent them an official email statement saying I don't want to be paying for it," Agnew said.
"Surely you take a look at it right and you say 'Covid's happened, the America's Cup is now completely not what anybody expected it to be'. It's simply going to be a spectator sport via TV now. It's just not what we expected it to be, right?
"It's like going to Granny's party instead of the fraternity party you were invited to, you know."
Viaduct Marina manager John Malta refused to comment on individual berth contracts but indicated that bonds paid for berths during the America's Cup period would not be refunded.
"The AC36 berthage agreement clearly states a non-refundable booking bond to secure each booking," Malta said.
This bond, determined by the length of a given boat, would then constitute the final month of a payee's lease.
So if Agnew had stayed from November 2020 through the full five months of competition, he would not have had to pay his March 2021 rent - the bond would be the fee.
Agnew says such a profit-making agenda is inappropriate for a public entity - both in the original monthly rent rise and the lack of a refund.
"It's council, it's public. It's not a private entity. If it were, sure, I could understand it. I'd just have to give them my $25 grand," Agnew said.
"The America's Cup rocks along and they [Panuku] say 'oh sorry guys, our facilities won't be available to you because we're renting them out at a higher rate, unless of course you want to pay that higher rate'."
Agnew said if he were able to get out of the lease he would go and anchor his boat in a bay somewhere for the five months of the America's cup.
"I'm not paying $125,000 for the privilege of sitting in the Viaduct while pretty much nothing happens, you know," he said.
The America's Cup regatta has been severely hampered by the pandemic, with the four international teams challenging Team NZ only allowed into New Zealand in June to train in Auckland conditions.
There has also been speculation about one of the four remaining challengers pulling out altogether.
New Zealand border restrictions are also likely to severely diminish the number of international visitors to the event - especially overseas superyachts which were at one point estimated to inject $436 million into the New Zealand economy.