Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton reported that good progress had been made with sponsors, and that many of the other barriers in the way of a campaign for the 35th America's Cup had been marginalised.
Emirates Team NZ AC72 first rigging - Viaduct Habour, Auckland, New Zealand
Addressing a media conference in Auckland, held on Black Friday, at the team's Viaduct Harbour base, Dalton said the team had delivered on the Government's requirements as a precursor to committing to a sponsorship package of a similar magnitude to its investment in the 2013 America's Cup.
In just over 10 days since the receipt of the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup, the team has advanced proposals with a new sponsor, believed to be a major NZ bank. They have also been to other approaches made to private sponsors, along with the team's existing sponsor group.
The requirement for $3million in entry fees and performance bonds came as a surprise to the team, which had been expected to about about $1million - given that for the 34th America's Cup the same costs were closer to $5million and were later shaved to $100,000.
Emirates Team NZ’s Managing Director, Grant Dalton
Dalton opened the media session with a comment that most present probably expected a spray in the direction of Oracle Team USA skipper, who launched another media attack on the New Zealand team and its management on Thursday.
But the Team New Zealand response was moderate and positive toward the Protocol which was reported to have been labelled 'naked dictatorship' by the Italian America's Cup team.
In reality there had been little change in the team's previously announced financial position - that the current cash lines would be exhausted by the end of June, and that new avenues were required.
However for a team that is short of cash, there is a full competitive program underway with Peter Burling stepping off an ocean racer, and leading a crew in the next round of the Extreme Sailing Series. The team's skipper, Dean Barker along with Ray Davies and Glenn Ashby are off to compete in the A-class catamarans.
In the course, of the 40 minute media conference where the general media focused on the money, while the sailing media were more interested in the Protocol, Dalton thought the terms of the next America's Cup were quite workable, given that it was early days with the Protocol.
The team accepted the loss of San Francisco as a venue, but were happy with either San Diego or Chicago. Bermuda was not a preference for the team.
He was surprised to hear Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill say that the Challengers were offered a second AC62, but declined. When questioned whether the team would push for a second boat for each of the Challengers, saying that they were probably more interested in a training partnership at the regatta or qualifier venue with another Challenger.
But he skipped over the fact that such an arrangement would be could subject to performance data and design swapping as occurred with the 34th America's Cup.
In terms of where Team New Zealand stood in regard to the US Defender, he noted that before embarking on the last America's Cup program none of the team had ever seen a wingsail, yet Oracle Team USA were embarking on their second wingsail multihulled campaign.
One of the criticisms of the Team in the past campaign was the belief that the management and Board of the team were a closed shop. In response to questioning on the relationship with the new Board, Dalton seemed to be very relaxed and confident that good progress was being made. The senior management of the team were meeting weekly with the Board. They also had an ongoing dialogue with the NZ Government.
In fact the only group they did not seem to be on speaking terms with, is the Defender Oracle Team USA, who Dalton said they had not had any direct communication. Discussions with the Challenger of Record, had lapsed a few months ago.