Grant Dalton updates on Emirates Team New Zealand

Grant Dalton speaking at the Emirates Team NZ Media Conference 28 November 2007

Solid support from the people who count

The uncertainty continues in the world of the 33rd America’s Cup. The lack of resolution of the Alinghi/Oracle standoff is not the best way to end the year. Our team is raring to go, committed and focused. All we need is a date.

I can report that in spite of the uncertainty Emirates Team New Zealand is enjoying solid support from sponsors and suppliers. That means a lot to the team and we thank them all for that.

Honestly, when you combine this with the support of the people on the team, it tells a lot about the culture of this place.

A hearing is set for the New York State Supreme Court on January 14 at which Alinghi and Oracle will make submissions, after which the Court will make an order on the future of the 33rd America’s Cup.

There have been suggestions that Alinghi will appeal the New York Supreme Court ruling, but probably this would not stop the clock. As of today:

- There’s a chance that Oracle and Alinghi will be racing in catamarans in October 2008, the 'Deed of Gift' challenge.

- If that happens and Oracle wins the 33rd America’s Cup they have said they will hold the next Cup in Valencia. Our preference would be for 2010.

- If Alinghi wins, it’s likely to be in 2011.

Like all things associated with this America’s Cup, the situation could change at a moments notice.
Two boat testing - Emirates Team NZ

Over the past couple of months we have held a number of our supplier/sponsor breakfast briefings at the base. These functions are a great way for the team to stay in touch with the people who play a fundamental part of our everyday operations and also get their feedback. The comments have been overwhelmingly positive.

We have not been able to get everyone in before Christmas, but we plan to hold more breakfasts in the New Year.

We always like to take our supporters sailing. In previous years we have had two boats sailing most days and we have been able to put two or three people on each of them. This summer circumstances are curtailing the Auckland sailing programme, but thanks to SAIL NZ we can continue with only a few adjustments.

Those of you based in Auckland will have seen the SAIL NZ America’s Cup yachts NZL 40 and 41 sailing in Emirates Team New Zealand livery. They will be fully integrated into the team’s sponsor/supplier fulfillment programme. Guests will gather at the base early afternoon for a tour and briefing before boarding NZL 40 and 41 for three hours of match racing. At the end of the afternoon a 'prize-giving' ceremony and barbecue will be held at the base.

In many ways it’ll be a better sailing experience for guests because they’ll be freed from the distractions (and delays) of the testing programme. Whenever possible, members of the sailing team will be on board. On top of their duties for Emirates Team New Zealand, SAIL NZ’s normal schedule of trips and charters for the domestic, tourism and corporate markets will continue as before.

Two boat testing - Emirates Team NZ

The Alinghi/Oracle stand-off is the major unfinished business of 2007. It has affected all challengers and potential challengers, especially those that are commercially funded.

For start-up teams the situation could not be worse. TeamOrigin, the British entry, has announced that it is scaling down its operation, believing that a challenge in 2011 is now likely. We have come to share that view although we are still looking at 2009 as a possibility. It remains in Ernesto Bertarelli’s power to achieve this even now, if he agrees to Oracle’s quite reasonable settlement letter.

The team is now fully geared up for a new challenge. The design team is in place and has done a lot of work on the new AC 90 design rule. Likewise the sailing team is signed and sailing in offshore regattas. Shore crew and key business and admin people have been retained. In the meantime, we are keeping our powder dry and waiting for developments that bring some clarity.

It’s traditional in end-of year reviews to look back on the achievements of the previous 12 months. While the focus is almost exclusively on the Alinghi/Oracle action, it’s very easy to let the team’s record this year fade into distant memory.

I am proud of the team. The way the boys carried themselves in the regattas, the way the shore team prepared the boats, the way the operations, business and admin people did their jobs.

The results on the water (finishing the Acts as the top challenger, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup, fighting to the finish in the America’s Cup match) earned the New Zealand public's respect and respect further afield.

To me, gaining that respect was our greatest achievement in 2007.

The team thanks once again our sponsors, suppliers and the public. Have a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.