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America's Cup - Battle lines drawn over Auckland Cup Hosting plans

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World on 13 Nov 2017
Cross Island, Bermuda, was a reclamation formed to take the America’s Cup Village, Media Centres, Grandstands, VIP areas, two team bases and superyacht access. Richard Gladwell
A New Zealand Herald's rounds-man has revealed that opposition forces are regathering to stymie proposals for the hosting of the America's Cup in Auckland.

Various parties opposed to further wharves and development being undertaken on the Waitemata have started lobbying Auckland Councillors ahead of a workshop meeting to be held today, where it was planned to update Councillors ahead of an open meeting to be held on November 23, 2017, where key decisions are expected to be made.

The New Zealand Herald's Bernard Oarsman reports:

Opposition is growing to a large wharf expansion for the America's Cup, with fears it will cause lasting damage to the Waitemata Harbour.

The same groups who stopped further expansion of the harbour for port use are lobbying Auckland councillors ahead of a workshop today on options for the America's Cup syndicate bases.

'The time has passed for perpetual reclamation and wharf expansion to remedy short-term problems with long-term detrimental effects on the harbour,' the Society for the Protection of Auckland Harbours and Stop Stealing Our Harbour said in a letter to councillors.

Councillors will be briefed on up to six options, including a proposal for a 3ha extension of Halsey Wharf - where the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre is - for as many as ten bases. The cost has been put at between $80 million and $100m.

Other options include an extension of the northern breakwater at Westhaven Marina, Captain Cook Wharf near the port and dispersing the bases at several sites around Wynyard Quarter.

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A graphic published in the hard copy edition of the New Zealand Herald was different in several areas from previous location options under consideration by Auckland Council.

The Herald graphic shows Westhaven reclamation as being viable but does not show how access to the bases would be achieved. The only way to access a reclamation in the NE corner of Westhaven marina is to block either the western or eastern entrances to the largest marina in the southern hemisphere. Using the land as reclaimed space would prohibit the planned use of the area for superyacht berthage. Most projections have between 70-100 superyachts visiting Auckland over the 2021 America's Cup regatta. Bermuda attracted 70 superyachts during the month-long regatta in June of this year.

The option showing Captain Cook Wharf as being available ignores the fact that the area (together with a possible extension) has been tagged for cruise ship use, and even if the demand were not there in 2021, if Team New Zealand successfully defended the America's Cup in 2021 - cruise ship pressure would be even higher for the second Defence in Auckland in 2025. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff disclosed at a Council meeting in early September that cruise ship traffic was doubling every four years. Already one visit from the Queen Mary has had to be declined due to lack of available berthage.

Captain Cook Wharf offers only 18,000 sq metres of the 30,000sq metres required.

The other options shown around the Wynyard Wharf area would use space currently used for superyacht berthage and service along with commercial slipways. Additionally, the two areas shown on the western side of the Wynyard Point are vulnerable to strong south-westerlies when rigging and launching America's Cup yachts, with no protection.

The option shown for Halsey Street is approximately the 30,000 sq metres required. It would hold all teams (seven Challengers and one Defender) and would provide an integrated team base facility which provides the ideal America's Cup facility. It has two sheltered launch areas on either side, with good fan viewing without having to go onto the base area itself.

It is also very close to the Viaduct Events Centre, which is sufficient size to be used for media and television centre along with 'America's Cup Expo' exhibition space if required.

The America's Cup Village could also be located within this and adjacent areas using existing facilities.

The Halsey Street extension would also be inside the line of existing wharfage. Current use of the water space is as a seaplane taxi lane and berthage for the Great Barrier and Waiheke car ferries. Neither activity would be affected by the proposed Halsey Extension option. The water space is plagued with substantial water movement from passing water traffic and is an area avoided by most recreational sailors.

The legacy use of the area would be as a water sports and events stadium with prefabricated and temporary structures erected as required. The facility would allow the attraction and establishment of water sports events that are not possible with the lack of existing facilities.

Over the weekend the economic impact data was released from the America's Cup held in Bermuda.

The economic impact was similar to Auckland in 2000 and 2003, given that only four teams were based in Bermuda for a substantial period of time (12-24 months). There were 12 teams in the 2000 America's Cup in Auckland and ten teams in 2003.

The cost of the construction of the Cross Island facility (30,000sq metres) is estimated to have cost NZD57million, compared to the NZD150million estimated for a similar sized facility in Auckland.

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