Emirates Team NZ CEO, Grant Dalton, looks back on a busy year for the world's most successful sailing team, now campaigning in the America's Cup, Volvo Round the World race and Extreme 40's ….
I guess this can be a Christmas blog. That means I reflect on the year – the good the bad and the ugly.
Not so sure about the ugly or even the bad; there hasn’t really been too much.
Probably I should start right at the beginning of the year because at that stage I didn’t think we were going to make it. We have enough money to stay afloat till March, courtesy of Matteo de Nora and Stephen Tindall but that was it. I was hunting sponsors hard. Have a look around, it’s tough out there and the America’s Cup is way too expensive.
When you add those two together the prospects for a commercial team surviving were slim. Right now we are not seeing another commercial team – except perhaps Team Energy.
The tide turned when Emirates reconfirmed and, although most people think that was always going to happen, in fact pre Christmas they looked like they were gone. Prior to their confirming our longest continuous sponsor,Toyota, had also confirmed. But even with these two, plus Government money, we were a long, long way from making it. However from then, it was a bit of a whirlwind of travel, presentations and hoping. Omega came next, again a long time sponsor,then a critical call, Nespresso came in, Camper followed and armed with these sponsors we called it on.
We still had a lot of money to raise but by now, Matteo and Stephen were standing by. More recently both the Luna Rossa deal and a still to be announced partner have made things a lot more comfortable.
I guess the bad was/is the exchange rate. Yes we hedge but only so much. Most of our money comes in Euros but is paid out in NZ$. Compared to the last campaign we need 15% more just to be in the same place – impossible in this market you would think so but in fact we now have this money.
While on the bad the cost of the America’s Cup. Statements about ‘ 'cost reduction' where just that, statements. In fact it’s more expensive and no real cost control measures exist. If the sport is to survive, and I include Volvo as well, someone has to get serious about this. To date the Cup has four teams, including us, the other three are funded by billionaires, which is hardly a good model.
And so the racing for the year. Leading the AC45 World Series, second in the Volvo so far and a third in the X40 season even with multiple crew changes. That’s not bad considering that all that was happening last Christmas was the Volvo boat build. Add to that the two SL33 cats which now both have new wings and a AC72 that is in full build now.
Throughout the year while the sailing has been going on the designers have been working on the new boat. By mid-2012 we will get to see their creation. Any and the shore team have also totally refitted our base, as well as run all the operations on the ground here in New Zealand.