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America's Cup- Emirates Team NZ up against funding hurdle for year

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz on 12 Apr 2014
Grant Dalton with HRH Duke of Cambridge Match racing in the America’s Cup monohulls on the Waitemata Harbour - April 11, 2014 © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
With no sign of the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup in sight, Emirates Team NZ CEO, Grant Dalton, confirmed last night in a TV3 interview that the funding advance from the New Zealand Government would run out in June 2014, or just over two months.

Appearing on prime time news show, Campbell Live, Dalton nodded in confirmation of a statement be Campbell, that the money would run out at the end of June, 2014. Beyond that the team would be relying on the generosity of private backers. 'We won't see any significant sponsorship money, this year,' Dalton told TV3's John Campbell. 'You can't make it out of this year with sponsors - you never do,' he added.

Dalton confirmed they had offers on the table from some of their existing sponsors, despite not having a Protocol, or Venue for the 35th Cup announced.

He pointed out that they expected the next America's Cup was expected to be just as expensive as the last despite all the talk of cost cutting. However the team were hamstrung by the lack of Protocol and a venue which had to have some marketing value to sponsors. When pushed that this would surely he a given in the new Cup equation, Dalton quipped 'don't count on it - this is the America's Cup!'

Of the four locations on the table, Cup pundits believe that San Francisco would be the best for the team and the event, due to the massive marketing success achieved by one of Emirates Team New Zealand's backers, NZ Trade and Enterprise in the last event, over achieving expectations.

Both Dalton and Barker confirmed that their relationship was tight, despite comments by others outside the team and that they would be leading the team going into the 35Th America's Cup. But Dalton stressed that before they could even look at their chances of winning the event, they had to get over the immediate money hurdle.

That task is being made no easier by the two parties responsible for negotiating the Protocol for the next America's Cup - Hamilton Island YC and Golden Gate Yacht Club. The process has now been running for over six months, and all indications are that it is a long way from a conclusion. 'Don't hold your breath' was the comment of one source close to the negotiations, when contacted by Sail-World yesterday as to the likely release day for the Protocol.

Sail-World understands the negotiations are being conducted largely between Richard Slater, one time rules expert for Oracle Team USA. However he is one of the few who has reverted to his country of citizenship, Australia, and is negotiating now against his old boss, Russell Coutts.

This week, Slater was umpiring in the Congressional Cup being sailed at Long Beach Yacht Club, so not a lot of progress was expected. Coutts whereabouts was not known.

Sail-World understands there are still some basic differences between the two groups in terms of the Protocol, and the venue is completely undecided. An announcement on either is not expected soon, and certainly the Protocol is not expected to contains any reference to the venue. Emirates Team NZ and other Challengers are believed to be kept in the loop in the negotiations, and know the basics of what will be in the Protocol, but obviously not sufficient to generate sponsorship and marketing proposals.

The directly involved parties obviously know more detail on the event and more particularly class and can get design work underway ahead of the Protocol and AC62 Class Rule being published. Oracle recently named a substantial design team for the next event.

Of the six teams believed to be active for the 35th America's Cup, only four, Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing (Sweden) and Team Australia have billionaire backers. Luna Rossa also has substantial backing, in the form of an already announced sponsorship. The others are very much sponsorship dependent for a significant portion of their funding.

While the erosion of time does not affect the already financed teams, for the sponsored teams a Proposal showing the conditions of the regatta, the venue and value proposition to a sponsor is essential, and time is of essence as marketing budgets for sponsorship spend are allocated years ahead of the event date,

For Emirates Team NZ there is the added pressure of the NZ Government dictates of a Protocol and Venue to be named before any further investment by NZ Trade and Enterprise will be considered. That group pumped in $37million in the the 2013 campaign and would be expected to be repeated at that level.

The full interview with Grant Dalton and Dean Barker can be viewed by clicking here

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