Show me the money.
Grant Dalton has seen plenty of it in his time, and his team have needed it. He is now in the unenviable position of having to temporarily flog the rights to the family silverware in order to be in the best position to keep it.
The latest bout of rhetoric says that Team New Zealand will take their Cup defence offshore if they can't secure the funding they need. No money, no home defence. This is almost carved in stone.
The government funding issue, as projected to the RNZYS last night by Grant Dalton, is problematic to the tune of $100 million. A package worth $99 million is on the table, as much as can be mustered, but only half of the required injection. Stalemate.
We all know what happens when TNZ run out of money. The fine sailors, techs etc who delivered the joy and terrifying patriotism put their red socks in a clothing bin and look for a gilded stocking instead. Riding the wave of nationalism only lasts until the tide changes, then it's out of the ocean and off to the highest bidder. In essence I have no problem with this. The bitter Blackheart campaign, launched into action when the then successful New Zealand team was pillaged by off-shore pirates said more to me about the frail mental state of the media more than the understandable want of the team members to cash in. I won't villainize people for following the money trail, considering the vast amounts of filthy lucre involved in the America's Cup, it would be more a surprise if the deepest pockets didn't win.
Grant needs more money. How does he get this? He's been a dab hand at squeezing every last cent from wherever he can, and for that he should be applauded. Now the well is running dry and the Government and council won't fund a sport that to many is as upper middle class as a bike bridge. One of the options left is for the team to up-sticks and dash to the Isle of Wight for a feed in a billionaires swill trough, with assurance that regardless of whoever wins, the next proper edition of the Cup will be held in Auckland. TNZ survive, team Auckland get an event, everybody wins right? On the face of it yes, but when has anyone taken anything at face value when that face is the America's Cup? The words trust and faith have never come to the fore. It's a dark and shadow stricken abyss populated by lawyers and self serving megalomaniac billionaires. Caveat emptor right?
What does the ordinary New Zealander want? How many of our famed team of five million would actually drop to their knees and weep if the America's Cup was to be relinquished because the government and council decided against funding and bought more road cones instead? Clearly, regardless of the presumed economic benefits of high net worth tourism and the financial injection to the sailing and associated industries, they have reached their limit.
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For Grant Dalton, the public passing around of the cap is all part and parcel of what he must do, but he knows it's a hard sell when Covid has taken a financial stick to many. It doesn't make him the most popular or likeable man in town. But I'd suggest he cares little about that, he just wants his team to be successful and will do what it takes to achieve that. That's his job after all, and one he has done with great aplomb in the face of stretched resources and cries of 'rich white man's folly' for years.
Short of a largesse from a whale, the only pragmatic solution is to sell the rights, defend from afar with the hope that a home defence and all of the goodwill and dollars that come with it will return one day. If he can't harpoon that Moby Dick, his only option is to set sail for warmer climes.
Team New Zealand's threat to take the Cup defence away is one thing, actually going through with it is another. Only then will we be able to truly gauge how deep our love affair with the Auld Mug is.