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America's Cup - Italy a better than even option for Cup Defence venue

by Richard Gladwell, on 29 Sep 2017
Cagliari Sardinia - Luna Rossa Challenge's base and the likely option for the 36th America's Cup Defence Luna Rossa Challenge 2013
The most surprising aspect of this morning's Media Conference to announce the Protocol for the 36th America's Cup was the comment, contained in the Protocol, was that if Auckland were not ready to host the America's Cup, then it would be staged in Italy.

While it is intended that the regatta will be held in Auckland, this is dependent on the required infrastructure being in place, and a final announcement as to whether the 36th America's Cup will be staged in Auckland or Italy will be made in August next year.

The move is a wake-up call for Auckland and New Zealand, given that it was noted that there is no suitable infrastructure in place.

With the country in a state of political flux after there being no clear result to last weekend's General Election. Auckland Council is heavily debt-laden due to various public transport funding initiatives. Ports of Auckland (owned by the ratepayers) is seen by many as an inflexible waterfront fiefdom with a long history of very conservative management and leadership. It would seem one of the parties now has to blink first and show some initiative and leadership, otherwise the America's Cup will be Italy bound in just 11 months time, and maybe earlier.

In previous Cups in New Zealand, the Government has appointed a Minister for the America's Cup and passed an America's Cup Empowering Act - permitting the fast-tracking of development of facilities.

The Viaduct Harbour which was created under Team New Zealand's urging following the 1995 America's Cup win, is no more and has been taken over by residential and commercial development. There is no America's Cup plug-in Auckland Council's Long Term Plan.

Under questioning at an Auckland Council meeting it was revealed that the space required for the teams is around 30,000sq metres. One option that was floated was one of the Auckland waterfront imported carparks - Captain Cook Wharf - however all other issues aside, the area of Captain Cook Wharf is only 18,000 sq metres - just over half what is required.

The Auckland Council Long Term Planning meeting was told by a senior staffer that 30,000sq metres of flat space would be required - a comment which caused an in-sucking of breath around the table.

They were also told that facilities needed to be ready by mid-2019 - that is three months after the first of the new AC75 class is allowed to be launched.

At this morning's media conference it was clear that Emirates Team New Zealand had competed in the last three America's Cups with the intention of bringing the Cup back to New Zealand. However the timelines were tight when other factors were taken into consideration, coupled with political posturing which saw the last Defence conducted in Bermuda rather than San Francisco - the home waters of the holder Golden Gate Yacht Club.
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