Taxpayers Put Wind in Team NZ Sails
Taxpayers have thrown Emirates Team New Zealand a lifeline, courtesy of the Government’s “bridging investment” of NZ$5 million, to fund another bid to win the America’s Cup. The syndicate had sought NZ$6.1m but Economic Development Minister Stephen Joyce said the money was sufficient to keep the team together until May next year.
Details about the new challenge, the race format and the type of boats to be used should be known by May and the priority, Joyce said, was to retain key personnel until a formal decision to again challenge for the cup was made.
The Challenger of Record is Hamilton Island Yacht Club, funded by Australian winemaker Bob Oatley, and will work with cup-holders Golden Gate Yacht Club, which represents Oracle Team USA, to set the rules for the next regatta.
Fears about teammates jumping ship had driven the Government investment. Skipper Dean Barker had earlier said the team had mere weeks to secure the services of key sailors, who were being targeted by foreign syndicates to crew their boats.
Most America’s Cup syndicates feature New Zealand sailors and Team NZ had proposed a new nationality rule had it won last month to force holders and challengers to only field sailors from the country of origin.
Team NZ lost 8-9 to Oracle for sailing’s most important prize, after holding a seemingly unassailable 8-1 lead, in what some commentators describe as the biggest choke in sporting history.