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Volvo Ocean Race- Team New Zealand within 10% of budget to compete

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com/nz on 3 May 2014
Emirates Team NZ base is a mass of high tech sailing plant, with four AC72 hulls, two sets of cross beams and sheds full of gear. Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO, Grant Dalton, says the team were within 10% of making the budget necessary to confirm the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race entry.

Interviewed on Radio Live, on Saturday afternoon, Dalton said they were 'very, very close.'

'Normally we would take that financial risk, and historically we have bridged the gap. But it is not going to be easy to fund the America's Cup either.'

It seemed that part of the reason for the call by the world's most successful professional sailing team, lies in the delay in production the the America's Cup rules and Protocol, and the team needed to conserve financial resources until that situation became clear.

Earlier today Hamilton Island Yacht Club' Iain Murray, confirmed that the key elements of the Protocol were agreed and that a signing process for would be getting underway as early as next week. The AC62 class rule is also in circulation, and the clear preference of the Challengers is to return to San Francisco in the smaller, fully foiling catamaran. Hamilton Island Yacht Club is the Challenger of Record for the 35th America's Cup and sets the conditions, under the 18th century Deed of Gift which governs the America's Cup, and as CoR they set the conditions for the next Match in negotiation with the Defender.

Basics of the new class were revealed by Stuart Alexander Yachting Correspondent for The Independent (UK)

Dalton said they had a funding conflict between the Volvo Ocean Race campaign, quoted elsewhere as costing $17million and the America's Cup campaign which will cost around $70million or so, provided Challengers are restricted to a single boat, with a significant one design element, believed to the complete wingsail.

'We have two patients and only one-lifejacket', Dalton explained, ' and the Team is about the America's Cup and the Volvo has to go by the wayside, unfortunately, but that is a commercial reality.'

'We got 10% away from meeting the budget'.

'The (Volvo OR) organisation believed that the budget we had put together with them and the Spanish group we were working for was enough. But honestly, we didn't believe that was correct, and in the end just couldn't make it all work.

'Given a bit more time and taking a bit more risk, we probably could have made it work. But we have enough in to keep the America's Cup moving forward.'

'With these one-design boats and the calibre of the crew we could put on one, we felt we had a really good chance of winning. This was very much a sailing race. We had a good crew in place, led by Chris Nicholson. But we decided, correctly, that the America's Cup would take every bit of energy that we have got, and financial resources, and that is what we are doing.'

Dalton said he expected their Spanish partners, led by Pedro Campos, to go ahead without them and would probably be able to raise more money. 'But that timing didn't work for us', he added. 'They are all about the Round the World race. They are not about the America's Cup as well - the deal was a one-off for the Volvo with no cross-over to the America's Cup.'

Dalton said the team was now focussed on making their finances stretch until November, when they expected the venue to be confirmed, 'then, I think it will roll pretty easily from there,' he added.

Dalton confirmed that the killer blow for the commercially driven teams was precision on the venue, and the delay while the Defender, Golden Gate Yacht Club, played with five options - Chicago, San Diego, Hawaii and New York as well as San Francisco.

Those who should be concerned by the decision not to compete include NZ Trade and Enterprise, who have lost an opportunity to piggyback on the team's presence in ten ports, mostly in Europe, USA, China and the Middle East - and six of which are all key trading targets for New Zealand exporters. Having achieved so much for New Zealand's trade and profile off the back of the last America's Cup in San Francisco, this is a significant opportunity wasted for a relatively small investment.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), the events arm of the Auckland Council will also lose significant impact from the race without a New Zealand entry/involvement. Auckland had been bypassed as a stopover in the two races prior to the 2011/12 event, and the return to Auckland along with a New Zealand entry put the magic back into the traditional midway point of the race, and bought the crowds back to jam the Auckland waterfront.

The assumption has always been that while Emirates Team NZ often complain that budgets are tight, they will still do the race. For the first time in the team's almost 30 year history, other party's bluff has been called.

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