New Zealand has lost the opportunity to host the America's Cup. That boat has sailed and it's off to Europe, but this country has a golden opportunity to showcase the innovative thinking and technical know-how that Kiwis bring to all facets of challenges.
You know an argument is on shaky ground the minute you read that someone has hired a PR firm to spin their story.
That's what self-proclaimed "oil and gas baron" Mark Dunphy has done in his latest distortion of the role he has played in New Zealand's success in the America's Cup and how he could have been the knight in shining armour who would step up to fund the $200 million that is needed to successfully host and defend the Cup in Auckland.
In his latest PR document, where he claims that a publicly funded $657m investment will go to waste with the move of the defence offshore, he has even provided a graph to help us understand his point.
The graph purports to show the way Team New Zealand has benefited from the largesse of New Zealand taxpayers and Auckland ratepayers, leaving no return on that investment now that the Cup is heading to Barcelona.
There is an interesting number in the graph that makes up the $657m spend he identifies as central and local government funding since 2000.
The number sitting under the column for 2017 — the year Team New Zealand won the Cup in Bermuda — is zero. That's zero, nada, zilch, nothing. That small fact has been missing from almost all the commentary since Team New Zealand and the Royal Yacht Squadron announced that the successful venue for the 37th America's Cup would be Barcelona.
In 2015 Team New Zealand was on the rough end of a broken promise by Oracle Racing that the Challengers Series for the 35th America's Cup would be held in Auckland.
Instead, Larry Ellison and his team at Oracle Racing informed Team New Zealand the Challenger Series was being moved to Bermuda.
The next call Team New Zealand got was from the Government announcing that the $30m funding that had been committed to the team was being withdrawn.
Without that funding Team New Zealand was gone, almost certainly along with any future involvement of New Zealand in the America's Cup.
The press release announcing the closure of Team New Zealand and its withdrawal from the Bermuda event in 2017 had already been written when longtime backers Sir Stephen Tindall and Matteo de Nora came up with $7million to keep the team operating while Dalton headed overseas to see if he could fill the enormous funding hole that the Oracle decision, and the subsequent withdrawal of government funding, had created.
The record shows not only did he pull that off but with one of the smallest budgets in the Cup Team New Zealand went on to win the Auld Mug 7-1, using a revolutionary design that once again highlighted the innovative, out-of-the-box thinking that had been a feature of New Zealand's involvement in the America's Cup since 1986.
Yes, 1986! That's a 36-year, unbroken stretch of New Zealand's involvement in the oldest international sports trophy in the world.
Only one other country has been involved longer than New Zealand and that was the United States, which held the Cup for 132 years.
For exactly half of that 36 years, Grant Dalton has been chief executive of Team New Zealand.
The irony of Dalton's appointment 18 years ago was that it followed an underfunded, under-resourced defence of the America's Cup here on the Waitemata.
That's the one we lost to Alinghi in 2003.
Dalton, with the silent and loyal support of Sir Stephen Tindall and Matteo de Nora, picked up a broken team, pieced it back together and built a record second to none.
Since Dalton has been in charge, Team New Zealand has won every Challenger's Series, won the Cup itself in Bermuda and then defended it in Auckland in a boat that everyone told him would never fly.
So when Dalton and the core team that has been alongside him for those 18 years say they need $200 million to host and defend the America's Cup I believe they have more than earned the right to be taken seriously.
We would not even be having these discussions around Barcelona had Dalton not bloodymindedly headed offshore to find the money he needed to get Team New Zealand to Bermuda to win the Cup in 2017.
We would not have witnessed the revolution in boat design that has attracted the attention of at least three F1 racing teams to the next America's Cup, guaranteeing a huge uplift in global interest in the event.
An event that will see a state-of-the-art flying machine carrying the New Zealand brand coming off pole position in what can now truly be described as the F1 event of sailing.
We would not have the opportunity to carry New Zealand's brand to the world in a city that is within four hours' flying distance of more than 400 million people.
We would not have seen Tamaki Makaurau and the Waitemata showcased to an audience of 941 million viewers globally (Nielsen ratings) across all platforms in 2021 and delivered here in New Zealand, at the insistence of Dalton and Team New Zealand, free across all platforms to all New Zealanders.
Fifty-two hours of TV coverage that went on to win the award for the most successful sports event broadcast at the prestigious Sports Business Awards in 2021.
No one in Team New Zealand has ever denied that the best place to defend the Cup was on the home waters of the Waitemata.
But the key word there is defend.
Now is the time to acknowledge what this team has achieved under the stewardship of Grant Dalton over the past 18 years and make the most of the international opportunity to showcase, on the ground in Europe, the innovative thinking and technical know-how that New Zealanders bring to all facets of challenges that are placed before them, and that goes well beyond just winning the Cup.
The race protocols now require that every team must have two of the hydrogen-powered catamarans that Team New Zealand has designed and built, when everyone told them it couldn't be done.
The race protocols also require every team to build a smaller AC 40, which can then be used for the Youth and Women's America's Cup which will be a feature of the next event, growing the sport on the world stage.
For fans of the F1 show Drive to Survive, the protocols also provide for the same level of access for a major streaming company to make the America's Cup equivalent.
Team New Zealand's aim has always been to build a legacy around this great event, and it is on the verge of achieving that in ways we could never have imagined.
The opportunity for our Government is to jump aboard this waka and explore how New Zealand might take advantage of the global stage set up for it by Team New Zealand, in one of the most spectacular cities in the world.
Who knows, perhaps all those politicians now bemoaning the decision by Team New Zealand to defend the Cup in Barcelona will finally see the vision that was always there in front of them and look seriously at how they might help stage the next America's Cup back here on the Waitemata.