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America's Cup- War of words erupts between Oracle and Team NZ on TV

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz on 6 Jun 2014
Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA ACEA / Photo Abner Kingman © http://photo.americascup.com
Two protagonists from the Defender and Challenger teams at the last America's Cup went head to head on New Zealand breakfast television this morning.

Jimmy Spithill the skipper of Oracle Team USA, commented 'that if the current management team of Team New Zealand isn't confident they can pull the team together or be competitive and win, then maybe the wrong people are running Team New Zealand.

'I could think of a couple of guys who could get in there and run it, who have a winning track record,' he added.

Spithill did not elaborate or name names, and the thrust of the remainder of the interview was that the newly announced Protocol was was fair and that it would lower costs, due to the smaller boat and expected reduction in team size. Spithill said that he expected the venue to be confirmed in October, ahead of the December 31, 2014 deadline set in the Protocol announced two days ago.

An online poll conducted in a NZ newspaper shows that over 86% of those viewing believe that New Zealand should not challenge again for the America's Cup. 4,500 had responded to the poll, and only 14% believed NZ should challenge again under the current Protocol.

The full interview with Spithill can be viewed by clicking here

Emirates Team NZ CEO, Grant Dalton back from fund raising in Europe did not respond directly to the comments. However would not have been surprised by them, as a concerted, and unsuccessful, campaign had been mounted some months ago to try and unseat the Team New Zealand management.

Dalton repeated earlier comments that the team was out of money in three weeks time and that his immediate task was to try and find funds to keep the team running until February 2015, when he expected to be generating sponsorship income.

Part of the immediate target was to try and raise funds to pay for the $2million entry fee and $1 million performance bond which had to be lodged by the end of the year.

Last night in an interview as he stepped into Auckland Airport, after arriving back from Europe, Dalton said that he had factored in a $1million entry fee into his budgets, but had not expected to have to come up with $3 million by December, 2014.

In the first rendition of the Protocol for the 34th America's Cup, even higher Entry Fees and Performance Bonds were demanded by Oracle Team USA's club, Golden Gate YC being a Performance bond of EUR 3million and an entry fee of USD 1million. After only three Challengers entered, the Performance Bond was dropped completely and the Entry Fee was slashed to USD100,000. However it was all too late, and only Luna Rossa came into the mix on the reduced deal.

Dalton's comments can be seen by clicking here

Dalton refuted Spithill's claims that the event would be cheaper saying that although the boat cost would be slightly cheaper, the campaign would be longer and more money would have to be spent on setting up a test platform on SL33's ahead of the AC62. Under the new Protocol, Challengers are only allowed to build one boat, and the design change options are more limited. Only 20% of the hull of the boat and 50% of the crossbeams of the boat can be altered after launch. The Defender can build two boats as happened in the last Cup.

In the previous Cup Team New Zealand built two AC72's modifying the first one substantially after a trial period, and then further modified the design of the second boat.

The prime time sports news item, can be viewed by clicking here

Dalton did not refer to the additional campaign and logistical costs of having to set up at a second Venue, for the Qualification Round, if there are more than four Challengers, before going onto the Challenger Finals at the America's Cup location.

On the cost issue, Spithill fired back saying that 'anyone who says they can't run a campaign for less than last time is frankly being poorly managed, or giving themselves too big a pay rise.'

'The event isn't any cheaper, but in the end it is the best event in the world for sailing, so we have got to be there,' was Dalton's closing response.

There has been no comment from other teams, other than Dalton revealing last night that Luna Rossa (ITA) had been calling him as he stepped off the plane in Auckland. Ben Ainslie is hold a major team function early next week, and some announcement about his America's Cup intentions is expected at that point.

Entries for the 35th America's Cup open on Monday, and close two months later in early August.

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