America's Cup challenger American Magic could have around 20 foreign personnel on the ground by the end of the week.

The syndicate have confirmed they have held direct talks with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment over the weekend and are optimistic team members will soon be able to depart for Auckland.

American Magic and Ineos Team UK had previously revealed their frustrations to the Herald over a lack of communication and information from the Government time frames for getting their people on the ground in Auckland to prepare for next year's America's Cup.

But publicity over their plight and revelations exemptions for the film crew of Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, who flew into the country last week, appears to have gone a long way to resolving the impasse.


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Two weeks ago American Magic CEO Terry Hutchinson warned the clock was ticking and if their personnel couldn't start arriving in New Zealand next week they would soon be at a competitive disadvantage to Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand.

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But that view appears to have softened with Hutchinson telling the Herald "In typical Kiwi fashion the folks that we have dealt with in MBIE (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) have been exceptionally positive and receptive to the communication that we've had over the weekend and things are going in the right direction."

"In the same breath until we are standing in the viaduct, we are not, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and everybody is happy the communication has improved and you can see a genuine sense of health and urgency to help facilitate the teams coming down there," Hutchinson said.

Terry Hutchinson on the bow of American Magic's Defiant. Photo / Amory Ross, American Magic
Terry Hutchinson on the bow of American Magic's Defiant. Photo / Amory Ross, American Magic

The New York Yacht Club entry's first boat is due to arrive in Auckland on June 20 and Hutchinson says it's vital they have key personnel on the ground to greet it. Given the tight time frame and 14-day quarantine procedures on arrival, those people would need to be here before the end of the week.

"If it goes well, and again I'm optimistic, then we are in a position that our first 20 team members would really need to be there to meet the ship and would have already gone through quarantine and are a day or two ahead of the ship," Hutchinson said.

"The boat is currently a day out from the Panama Canal and she's moving along quite nicely. But as I said until we are there you can only trust in the process."

American Magic crew members have been waiting patiently for the all-clear to fly to New Zealand.


"The message is we have to be ready to go and it's hard for some of the team members who have young children and are basically living out of a suitcase waiting for that time to get on a plane and work through the logistics of it," Hutchinson said.

Publicity last week surrounding the crew of Hollywood blockbuster film Avatar arriving in Wellington on a charter flight to undergo quarantine may have helped American Magic's cause.

"So when we read about Avatar and we saw that happening, we don't have any affiliation with them but it is a beacon of hope," Hutchinson said. "So it's one of those things, you can say oh well here is a group that can come in and can help support the economy in the same manner that we can, so I think probably there's a pathway there that we will hopefully be coat-tailing off of."