America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ confident to mount Cup Challenge

Emirates Team New Zealand is given the green light for a Challenge for the 35th America's Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand chairman Dr Keith Turner has announced that the team has now reached the point where it has the confidence to mount a challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.

He says the team has secured sufficient private and sponsorship funding to proceed to the next stage without needing Government funding during this period.

'Now, with the assistance of long-time supporters Sir Stephen Tindall, Matteo de Nora and other private Donors and Sponsors, we are delighted to be able to say that we are funded through to late this year,' he said in a media statement released by the team on Thursday afternoon.

Emirates Team NZ’s Managing Director, Grant Dalton
Emirates Team NZ CEO Grant Dalton said: 'The team has been working towards this moment almost since the day of the last race in San Francisco.

'The funding support for the team that has coalesced over the past week means we can continue the design and engineering development, and keep racing, until main sponsorship funds begin to flow.

'To avoid falling behind the opposition, our design and engineering team has been working on the software tools they will need for the challenge.'

There was no mention of additional NZ Government funding for the team, which created a media fed outrage just two weeks ago, when a media conference held to discuss the team's reaction to the Protocol, turned feral as some members of the media choose to focus on Government backing for the team.

Today's announcement came by way of media release avoiding a repeat of the hi-jacked Media Conference of June 13.

It would seem that the team has enacted a Plan B, and has raised the necessary bridging finance to get it through to when the sponsorship and other funding sources are turned on. The team has previously said that it is in the best position it has enjoyed in regard to sponsor commitment at this stage of a campaign. It is believed to have strong support from at least four key sponsors and was also holding discussions with a Bank to come aboard as a sponsor in the way that Bank of New Zealand did in the 1986/87 challenge in Fremantle.

Currently the team has a sailing program underway in two events. Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby and Chris Nicholson are at the European A Class championships in France. Ashby leads that regatta, with Barker in 18th place and Nicholson in 26th place overall in the 75 strong fleet. Ashby won his seventh world championship in the class off Takapuna, earlier this year.

In St Petersburg, Russia, Olympic 49er sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke with Jeremy Lomas, Ray Davies and Edwin DeLaat are in Russia for the Extreme Sailing Series which starts on Thursday. Several other America's Cup teams are competing.

'The Protocol and the design rule has been published so we know what we are working with and we are confident we can mount a challenge that has the potential to win,' Dalton said.

'Amendments to the Protocol have removed some of the more contentious issues. If this Protocol follows the pattern of previous Cup cycles, more amendments will follow. The so called Two-boat rule for the Defender is not the problem suggested by recent media reports.'

'We now await the announcement of venue for the challengers’ preliminary series and then the venue for the challengers’ semi-finals, finals and the America’s Cup Match, so that we can put the finishing touches to the team’s business plan and present it to our backers for approval.'

Entries for the 35th America’s Cup close on August 8. As yet no teams have entered and none are expected to do so until closer to the August date pending resolution of some outstanding issues. This will be the Team New Zealand's 9th America's Cup since the entity was formed 30 years ago, as New Zealand Challenge and is the longest running team in the competition. In that time it has won the America's Cup twice, and has sailed in the America's Cup Match on the last five occasions that the event has been open to multiple Challengers being selected through the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta.

Earlier today in an interview published in Yachting World, Artemis Racing (SWE) said that it had issues with the Protocol and the event and was still making a decision whether to Challenge.

Entries are expected from at least six marque teams for the event, for which a venue and dates are yet to be announced.