the plot thickens

I did suggest in my previous piece that Grant Dalton may have a few aces up his sleeve. The copy of the recent email from Hamish Ross to NYYC is perhaps one of them.

On the one hand, these pair try to give the impression they are helping while at the same using back channels to muddy the waters and make funding AC37 even more difficult.

Ross, and also Dunphy (by the very fact that he was copied in on the email) clearly need to be somewhat better at their research before casting aspersions on the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing Limited as being an invalid challenger for the America’s Cup.

Let’s look at some FACTS surrounding that for a moment. The RYSRL needs to be “incorporated”. Well, they have been since 2014, a brief, and simple, check with “Companies House” in London confirms that they indeed are except they are not.

No panic here though, The Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) simply changed the name of the company on 24th March this year. Same company but more defined as the RYS

Companies House is the United Kingdom’s government (legislature) register of all limited companies in the UK. (Legal requirement) They also need to run an annual regatta on an ‘arm of the sea’. The “arm of the sea” they race on includes much of the course where the 100 Pound Cup was run in 1851 and anyone who hasn’t heard of Cowes Week, well what rock have they been living under. 

Their structure is as “a company limited by guarantee” which is the structure of many sailing clubs around the country in the UK, a structure designed to limit the financial liability of club members should something go wrong.

The RYS Ltd officers are and/or were prominent members of the RYS with the current Rear Commodore Finance being the first on the list of names and RYS Ltd has iconic Cowes Castle as their correspondence address is predominantly listed as the RYS address at The Castle in Cowes. So as far as this writer can ascertain there is absolutely no impediment for the RYSRL to either operate as a company Limited by Guarantee or issue a challenge for The America’s Cup. FACT!

So I fail to see just where Ross, who hardly has a history of backing New Zealand teams (he was legal counsel for Alinghi across 3 editions of The Cup) is coming from or gets the idea that RYSRL or the RYS is NOT a legitimate challenger for AC37.

It would also appear that the NYYC, having a few months ago considered the thought of legally doubting, and therefore replacing, RYSRL as COR to the point of making the significant effort to produce an alternative draft protocol decided against such action, presumably after having done the sort of research that such a challenge to the legitimacy of the current COR would be a waste of time, effort and of course money. That ‘alternative’ protocol was apparently hand-delivered to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Commodore by, you guessed it, Dr. Hamish Ross. 

Therefore I would imagine that Commodore Culver probably didn’t have to think terribly long and hard before “rejecting the overtures” of Ross & Dunphy.

Of course, this changes nothing. If defending in Auckland means there is insufficient funding available to ETNZ to mount a meaningful defense,  AC37 on Huaraki Gulf would likely be the last America’s Cup event seen on New Zealand waters for some considerable time. As I have said before if a Kiwi team is struggling to raise funds as THE defender, what chance would the same team have to raise funds for a meaningful future challenge should they lose AC37 in 3 years’ time.

There is no doubt that RNZYS & ETNZ are singing from the same song sheet. While both would obviously prefer a ‘home defense’ on the waters off Auckland their clear priority is maximising the possibility of a successful defense.

The team has already, in their recent press release made their attitude quite clear and RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young has declared full support. Quite what the ‘Squadron’s’ ultimate sanction will be to the email will be largely dependant or that organisation’s bylaws.   

If the pundits and New Zealand public who squeak and moan about the possibility of the event being held elsewhere were REAL fans of Team New Zealand or had any genuine interest in The Cup being retained in AC37 rather than just having a ‘ home show’ they might pause and realize that an underfunded team would see their team more likely to lose. Surely an AWAY victory would be better than a HOME defeat. 

Similarly, those who say the America’s Cup should be less expensive. Sorry guys, it has always been the realm of the rich and infamous. Even the initial challenge took the spare cash of not one but 6 wealthy NYYC members way back in 1851 and in AC32, as commodore of a challenging club we had to put up US$2m just to reserve a seat at the table, thankfully refunded when we (the club & syndicate together) decided that the expected ongoing funding was not going to appear.

Is there anyone in New Zealand with that amount of spare cash who doesn’t want to play both ends against the middle? Or perhaps the ordinary Kiwis? They have proven in the past that collectively they can get behind the team. Who could forget Peter Blake’s red socks? I am sure just about every New Zealander must have at least one pair and many others chipped in too. The late ‘Mr America’s Cup’, Bob Fisher,  was seldom seen without a pair and I too have several in my sock drawer. 

Some would say honesty and loyalty has greater value than a stacked bank account, perhaps there is some truth to that, and of course this is far from the first example of intrigue in the 170-year history of the Cup and likely won’t be the last.

However, it is enough of that “root of all evil” that is required if ETNZ is to have a realistic chance of the America’s Cup still being “New Zealand’s Cup” after AC37.

If they have to defend elsewhere than NZL in order to secure the funds, I will be as disappointed as many AC fans and followers but likely less disappointed than many Kiwis watching an ignominious defeat in AC37 off Auckland primarily through lack of cash.

For reference, I have included the ETNZ & RNZYS statement links along with the Companies House RYS entry plus the latest amendment to the AC Deed of Gift. – SS.