ETNZ accused of ‘selling their souls’ as America’s Cup seeks new venue

The Māori Party has hit out at Emirates Team New Zealand’s (ETNZ) plans to take the America’s Cup overseas, accusing the team of selling ‘their souls to the highest bidder’.

“When the Americas Cup gets distilled to how much money rather than how much mana, we have truly lost our way,” says Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi in a statement titled ‘the rort that is the America’s Cup’.

As reported in Marine Industry News, ETNZ turned down a $99m funding offer from the New Zealand government early last week, saying it will look for alternative venues.

“The privileged, entitled, rich, top end of town, fully funded in previous endeavours by Aotearoa Incorporated have shown their true colours,” says Waititi. “If the hand-out from government isn’t big enough they will sell their souls to the highest bidder.”

According to Stuff, Waititi refuses to accept the financial impact from Covid-19 as an excuse for looking to take the event away from Auckland.

“Do the big boys down town have plenty of money to sponsor their own cup? You bet they do. They’d just rather not use it.

“The sooner the Americas Cup is banished from our shores, the better,” Waititi says. “Invest the $100m on offer into our poor, our homeless and the real people that require it.

“The rich have had enough play in the water. Time they pay for their own boats from now on.”

Likely host destinations

There are now more candidates for hosting than boats that sailed at Auckland 2021. Europe, the Middle East and Asia are potential destinations for the next America’s Cup, with Valencia confirming its bid on Saturday.

The Spanish city is said to have been in discussions with cup organisers for the past six months, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Spain’s Nautica 360 website reported that a bid from a consortium based in Valencia – which is on Spain’s southeastern coast – was seeking ‘local and national investors’.

However, this option has already been dismissed by pundits.

“Stepping into the ring, quite astonishingly and with the shutzpah of a faded cabaret dancer and more front than Harrods is Valencia quoting eye-watering EU re-generation funding that will ‘surely be guaranteed’ if the cup is awarded to the city – Give. Me. A. Break,” says Rule69. “I just cannot believe that this has any legs whatsoever.”

According to Stuff, Cowes (home of the challenger of record, the Royal Yacht Squadron) is growing in favouritism to be involved in the next America’s Cup. A day after the 36th Cup ended Ineos Team UK was revealed as the next official challenger of record.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has invested more than $200m in his Portsmouth-based Ineos America’s Cup team since he established the syndicate in 2018.

In a sign of his commitment to the cup, the businessman travelled to Auckland despite the coronavirus, and so did several of his corporate officers. Ineos Team UK was given clearance for 13 of the Ineos Chemical CEOs and directors to enter New Zealand for the Cup as ‘essential workers’ during the event, the NZHerald has learned.

They came on their superyachts, bypassing MIQ because they spent $50,000 in repairs in boatyards on their $100m-plus superyachts via a maritime border exemption.

The Solent cited as favourite

It’s hard to argue against the Solent now being the favourite, given ETNZ’s partnership with Team UK as challenger of record and the financial clout of Ratcliffe, says Stuff.

‘Initial talk of a deed of gift challenge seems to have cooled, realising this is a crucial juncture in the cup, pressing on with the AC75 boats and a need for inclusiveness rather than exclusivity.

‘The decision to enlist the London-based Origin Sports Group to assess international options has apparently been fruitful and there are worthy alternatives’.

Emirates Team New Zealand won’t have walked away from New Zealand’s offer and its support on home waters lightly, says Stuff. ETNZ must know there are better deals on their table to not only ensure its survival but to invigorate the entire America’s Cup scene.

Net result of uncontrolled billionaires

However it ends, the struggle to keep the cup in New Zealand reflects the harsh reality of the sport, an America’s Cup insider told the NZHerald.

The increasing engineering sophistication of the boats means that the costs of a competitive syndicate are skyrocketing. It may need reforms including uniform design rules and other restrictions to keep the sport competitive and accessible to a wide global market.

“What it really highlights is the need for dramatic reform in the America’s Cup,” says the insider.

“It would seem in the current circumstances that New Zealand has been priced out of the America’s Cup, which I think is counterproductive for the sport of sailing. The sporting public and everyone else who has enjoyed the America’s Cup over the years loses as a result. Is this the net result of uncontrolled billionaires? That’s terrible.

“I mean it would be an incredibly sad day, to use a rugby analogy, if the All Blacks were being sold off overseas because we could no longer afford to keep them.

“Once the cup goes offshore it will never come back – you are totally dependent on venue funding to support the team.”

Image courtesy of © ACE | Studio Borlenghi.

One response to “ETNZ accused of ‘selling their souls’ as America’s Cup seeks new venue”

  1. Paul Russell says:

    Well, I for one am not surprised, however the 2021 event was a massive damp squib for spectators and AmCup needs a radical rethink and overhaul. 4 teams competing is not sufficient, as we saw when TUSA had to withdraw, the race schedule became a farce. None of the races were closely contested and the majority, as soon as the start was completed were simply a bore. There is no doubt that the SailGP series is a better, more contested format and hugely more thrilling to watch. AmCup really needs to sit down and think what it delivers to the sport, the spectators and its value proposition in what is now getting to be a competitive market for sponsorship deals, tv rights and world crew stars. For once, the money shouldnt do ALL the talking, although I understand it must do a fair amount of it………. but without a rethink I dont believe that AmCup will retain its “pinnacle” lable, that will go to SailGP who deliver a much better product for their audience…….

This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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