Team New Zealand has put paid to a last-ditch bid by Kiwi rich-lister Mark Dunphy to keep the next America's Cup on home waters.
In a strongly worded statement on Wednesday, TNZ boss Grant Dalton confirmed he had ceased all correspondence with Dunphy.
Dalton claimed Dunphy refused to answer questions the syndicate put to him regarding his campaign for the 37th America's Cup to be hosted in New Zealand.
The statement came after Dunphy, chairman of Greymouth Petroleum, on Tuesday denied claims Swiss billionaire and Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli was involved with possible New York Supreme Court action and Dunphy's proposed home defence.
"Yesterday, Mr Dunphy clearly stated in a press release that direct claims by Emirates Team New Zealand about his offshore dealings were 'false'. However, despite both private and public requests for direct answers, there has been nothing more than general sweeping press statements and an avoidance to directly answer our specific questions," Dalton's statement reads.
Team NZ claims to be in possession of a "damning" email - allegedly sent to the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club (NYCC) by Dr Hamish Ross on August 26 - with Dunphy copied in.
Ross previously worked as legal counsel with Alinghi during their 2003, 2007 and 2010 campaigns.
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Quoting the email, Team NZ said it outlined the "intentional lobbying of the NYYC to take legal action in the New York Supreme Court against the Challenger of Record [the Royal Yacht Squadron] with a purpose of intentionally disrupting the venue selection process".
According to Team NZ, the email sent to the NYCC reads: "Through me, the group in NZL are asking the NYYC Club, in fulfilment of its supervisory role, to challenge RYSL over its bona fides as a qualified challenger.
"This may require an interpretation of the Deed to provide clarity for all concerned. The first step would be sending the challenger RYSL a letter and, if there is an unsatisfactory response, seeking an interpretation from the NY Supreme Court. Seeking an interpretation would disrupt the venue selection which is due to be announced on 17 September 2021. Given time is of the essence, I have taken the liberty of preparing a suggested form of letter as a starting point for consideration.
"Assuming RYSL cannot qualify as a challenger, the NYYC's challenge of 7 May 2021 as the next qualified challenge filed after RYSL's challenge, would cause NYYC to become the next COR, with the new Protocol to be agreed between RNZYS and the NYYC."
Dalton has previously claimed that to put on a credible defence of the Cup it needs to be held overseas. He last week delayed announcing the venue for 2024, saying the process had thrown up "three compelling and professional international proposals" - reportedly Cork (Ireland), Barcelona (Spain) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).
In response, Dunphy offered to provide short-term funding to Team NZ of up to $5m while a deal to keep the next regatta in New Zealand is thrashed out. He reportedly promised to put up $20 million of his own money.
In the statement on Wednesday, Dalton said he was "disappointed" by Dunphy's "underhanded and deceitful attempts to undermine the RNZYS, ETNZ and the RYS with his despicable actions".
"We gave him every opportunity to tell us himself, but he chose not to and as far as we are concerned this puts an end to a regrettable chapter in AC37. We applaud Commodore Culver and the NYYC for wanting no part and rejecting Mr Ross and Mr Dunphy's overtures.
"The RNZYS is our representative club, we support them and I have no doubt the club will find this incredibly disappointing and will have their own process to deal with this situation."
Team NZ retained the Auld Mug in March by defeating Italian outfit Luna Rossa 7-3 in the Cup Match, before accepting the challenge of Britain's RYS for the 2024 regatta a short while later.
Mark Dunphy responds
A spokesperson for Dunphy said he stands by his earlier statement.
"Mr Dunphy did speak to NYYC as part of his due diligence about whether they would participate in the defence if it was held in Auckland. Hamish Ross has not represented Mr Dunphy on the matter referred to in the statement.
"We remain surprised at the hostility and vitriol from Team New Zealand against a well-motivated attempt to fund a defence of the America's Cup in Auckland in 2024."
Dunphy on Tuesday denied claims that Bertarelli – "or any offshore interests" – is involved with the America's Cup Kiwi Home Defence campaign.
"Claims have been made by Grant Dalton about Kiwi Home Defence and our proposal and motives in offering financial backing and support to keep the America's Cup defence in 2024 in Auckland. These claims are false.
"The Kiwi Home Defence team and Mark Dunphy are not working with, or on behalf of, any offshore interests. The Squadron and Team New Zealand are aware of this. Any assertion to the contrary is completely untrue."
Kiwi Home Defence and prospective donors were simply a group of "patriotic New Zealanders seeking nothing more nor less than to help the Squadron and Team New Zealand with the funding to ensure the successful home defence of the America's Cup in 2024".
"And of course, we want our team to win the Cup match and go on to win again and again. We are open, we are transparent and we are positive that our team can do this. Like you, we are New Zealanders who feel passionately about our team and our celebration of the next Cup regatta in Tāmaki Makaurau."
Dunphy said: "None of our prospective donors have any interests which in any way conflict with Team New Zealand successfully defending the America's Cup. We confirm that we would never countenance funding from a challenger team or any party whose interests conflict with New Zealand's interests, and those of the Squadron or TNZ."