Emirates Team NZ CEO, Grant Dalton is receptive to the concept of having to sail the America's Cup Selection Series at two venues, despite the additional costs.
Two venues could have some merit for Challengers and sponsor opportunities
After the team's media conference on Friday, Dalton was asked if he would rather have all the Challengers sailing at the Match venue instead of the split venues, as proposed by the new Protocol - if there are more than four Challengers.
'From a sponsorship point of view, depending on where it is held, I don't think it is a bad thing,' he told Sail-World. 'It's potentially a cost of relocation. You have to locate twice. But I think it is quite good if it is a meaningful venue with commercial activity for an airline, selling watches, coffee or shoes. I'm all for it - and better still if it was Auckland,' he added.
That is a change of heart from the team given the objections that were raised when the concept was first mooted by Oracle in March 2014. A lot of the sting has gone out of the proposition with the elimination of San Francisco as a Match venue, as the Qualifiers could have been held in a venue with lighter breezes, forcing Challengers to design more of an all-round boat to ensure they made the Qualification cut. The Defender would have the luxury of being able to optimise their AC62 for the Match venue only.
Grant Dalton, Emirates Team New Zealand Managing Director talks to media at a press conference at the team's base in Auckland. 13/6/2014
The venue for the Qualifiers is selected by America's Cup Events Authority, after a bidding process and consultation with the Challenger of Record and Broadcasters. The Competitor's Forum is consulted on dates for the regatta that is projected to last one month and takes place at least four and a half months before the start of the Play-offs (Semis and Finals) of the Challenger selection series.
In the same interview, Dalton also touched on his team's belief that Oracle Team USA are working with a Chinese group to help put together a Challenger. 'As far as we can tell, it is them,' Dalton said. Dalton added that that Oracle's Murray Jones and Morgan Larsen are involved, but knows no more. Emirates Team NZ entered into a similar relationship with Luna Rossa (ITA) in the 34th America's Cup, a move that was attacked by Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing. The Protocol for the 35th America's Cup is silent on this point.
The Elephant in the Room is still the decision by the Defender and Challenger in the Protocol, to have an Arbitration Panel instead of an International Jury. That runs counter to the Regulations of the International Sailing Federation, which gave itself the right in 2012, to appoint the International Jury for a series of major events including the America's Cup.
In some previous America's Cups, notably the 2000 and 2003 events, and partially in 2007, and Arbitration Panel was used, but that option was removed in the new Regulation passed by the ISAF in 2012.
The International Sailing Federation is believed to be very concerned about the situation. The Protocol passes off the responsibility for dealing with ISAF to the yet to be appointed Regatta Director, however the matter may not wait until that hire is made.
'We need ISAF to make a statement on what they intending to play out', Dalton said. 'It is one of the things that is standing out there, at this point. One imagines there is manoeuvring going on in the background that we don't know about.
I don't imagine they (ISAF) are doing nothing, but the Challengers would like to them to say something publicly,' Dalton added.
San Francisco, 34th America's Cup - Oracle Team USA vs Emirates Team New Zealand supporters