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battle lines drawn

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has decided on the 9th of December to hold the ‘Special General Meeting’ to discuss with the membership the venue for America’s Cup 37. This is in response to (I understand) a petition from 33 RNZYS members for such a discussion.

Instead of commenting on the statement from the Squadron committee, I will quote it here: There needs to be a reality check in respect to a New Zealand-based AC37 Match. ETNZ needs to secure funding, with local and central Government support, to hold this event in Auckland. Unless this happens, we need to consider offshore venues. The consequences of not doing so are potentially dire – no cup defense at all, and giving the America’s Cup back having been unable to stage a defense and meet our obligations under the Deed of Gift.”

“This means the loss of the America’s Cup, the loss of our Team New Zealand, and the potential loss of future America’s Cup challenges from the RNZYS, and most likely New Zealand. So, while we understand and support the sentiment of the petition and their desire to “have the event in New Zealand”, the answer is not that simple.”

What the committee is saying is exactly what we commented on Sailing Anarchy weeks ago when the naysayers started to sound off about an ‘offshore’ defense.

It is no secret that Haas is not at the front of the grid in motor racing’s F1 because their budget is a fraction of Mercedes or Red Bull. To stand any chance of successfully defending ETNZ has to have a realistic R & D budget to be able to, just as an example,  properly analyze any shared recon information they receive.

It should be noted that one of the vocal supporters of a ‘home defense’ is no less than Hamish Ross who is so loyal towards the Squadron (of which I believe he is a member) that the last time The Cup left New Zealand shores he actually worked for Alinghi is some capacity. More recently he tried to have the Royal Yacht Squadron kicked out as COR as they were not a legitimate challenger while they are actually recognized by not just one ‘legislature’ but two. He was so keen on this idea he even mailed the New York Yacht Club for support who told him, in not so many words to go sling his hook. Nice to have loyal members.

Like the committee of the RNZYS, and I am sure most Kiwi supporters, I firmly believe that a home defense would be the preferred option. Having said that given the choice of a (likely) one last show on the Hauraki Gulf with little chance of winning or an overseas venue with the more realistic chance of retaining the America’s Cup in New Zealand, a thoughtful response would most likely be for the latter.

Long gone are the days when a cash-strapped team can save a bundle by producing laminated wood winglets when they can’t afford titanium (San Diego under Sir Peter Blake) and still be competitive.

I would imagine the General Meeting under the shadow of Auckland’s Harbour Bridge might be quite a heated affair. To use a soccer analogy I doubt if there would be a single real fan that wouldn’t prefer an away win to a home draw (or loss). – SS