Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton says the New York Yacht Club will "definitely not be making up the numbers" at the 2021 America's Cup.
The New York Yacht Club announced today that it will challenge for the 36th America's Cup to be held in Auckland, after an absence of a decade and a half.
Teams can file challenges beginning Jan. 1. The NYYC last backed a challenge in 2002-03 with Team Dennis Conner.
It held the silver trophy from 1851 until 1983, when Australia II beat Conner's Liberty to end the longest winning streak in sports.
Dalton told Radio Sport that Team New Zealand were delighted to have the NYYC onboard.
"Absolutely fantastic news to have the New York Yacht Club and also backed by generally good guys that really have the sport at their heart. I know two of them quite well so we're delighted. It sets the credentials really for the next cup and puts a stake in the ground," Dalton said.
"They are definitely not making up the numbers. If Emirates Team New Zealand is good enough to hang onto the cup it will but we expect hard challengers. Luna Rossa, now the New York Yacht Club, Ben Ainslie and the Royal Squadron will be challenging again and those have really been the three main yacht clubs in the cup in recent years."
"They're not a fly by night, they're real challengers and I think it does encourage others to challenge as they've seen what sort of event we're going to be able to put on here."
Dalton said there was a possibility of another American team taking part the event but no other entrants have been in talks with him.
"There's certainly talk of another challenge but it's not really anyone I've been engaged with the same way I've been with engaged with this syndicate in the last number of months really.
America's Cup legend Dennis Conner says the New York Yacht Club will bring a big budget to its challenge.
Conner told Radio Sport that the New York Yacht Club will match challenger of record Luna Rossa in size of budget for the event. One of the team's representatives is Doug DeVos, the CEO of Amway. The DeVos family's estimated wealth is US5.4 billion.
"The event is going to be spectacular and everyone is looking forward to seeing how it's going to work out," Conner said.
"I think it's wonderful. The event needs to have a few competitors that are strong and can challenge Team New Zealand. Because they are so good we need an exciting challenge. The New York Yacht Club being part of it will add to the drama. I suspect the money generated from the New York Yacht Club and the DeVos team Quantum Racing, they'll be a big budget group similar to Prada [Italian syndicate Luna Rossa]. They'll give Prada a good run for the right to win the Prada Cup.
"We all look forward to see how they develop the new boat with the wing and sail and mainsail and the possibility of them flying downwind will be very interesting. Certainly be more interesting than watching a couple of catamarans race around in Bermuda. It's wonderful to see the cup getting back to its roots."
"The New York yacht club has been part of that and they'll do a good job. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will get along with them. It's all good, good, good."
Conner says it seems unlikely Oracle Team USA backer Larry Ellison will return to the sport and isn't confident there will be another American challenger to join the New York Yacht Club.
"I'm sure they would like to be 100 challengers but show me the money. Where's the money going to come from? When you're talking about a sail budget of $40m and all the costs involved of developing a new boat, I think the budgets will be upwards of $100m and there's not that many folks around with that kind of money to spend on sailing."
The club will be represented by Bella Mente Quantum Racing Association, which will be led by yachtsmen John J. "Hap" Fauth of Naples, Florida, and Doug DeVos of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
DeVos is president of Amway and the brother-in-law of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
America's Cup veteran Terry Hutchinson will serve as CEO and skipper.
Dalton was quick to welcome the news of the challenge having had long associations with DeVos and Hutchinson.
"As exciting as it is to have a challenge from the New York Yacht Club, I am equally enthused having Hap Fauth, Doug & Terry in the America's Cup. They are all highly respected and successful individuals and have no shortage of achievements in the top level of competitive monohull sailing in the Maxi72 class and the TP52 classes with series wins and World Championships to their names," Dalton said.
"There is no question that they will be a formidable Challenger."
- NZ Herald/AP