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America's Cup - Space tight in Auckland Cup base options

by Suzanne McFadden, Newsroom on 13 Nov 2017
The Hasley Street extension will turn the Viaduct Harbour into a marine events hub, without being covered in apartments and commercial office space. Richard Gladwell
Space will be at premium whatever option is chosen to house America's Cup bases in downtown Auckland, reports Newsroom's Suzanne McFadden.

Auckland had better hope that there isn’t a huge groundswell of interest from challengers for the 2021 America’s Cup. Because under plans unveiled yesterday, frankly there’s not a lot of space on the city’s waterfront to house more than seven of them.

The search for a team base location - which will guarantee that the Cup is raced in New Zealand, not Italy – is gathering momentum and urgency.

Five base options were presented to Auckland councillors at a workshop yesterday – with the “indicative” price tags on infrastructure required ranging from $140 million to $190 million (the most costly of which happens to be the option Cup defenders Emirates Team New Zealand favour). A decision from council needs to be made in 10 days’ time, to meet the timeline of bases being completed by mid-to-late 2019.

Every option requires wharf expansions into the Waitemata Harbour – and can only accommodate eight teams, at a squeeze.

In 2000, Auckland housed 12 teams – 11 challengers and America’s Cup holder Team New Zealand – for the first America’s Cup defence. Three years later, there were 10 teams in total.

Obviously, it’s impossible to predict this far out how many challengers will turn up for the Prada Cup (the replacement for the Louis Vuitton Challengers’ Trophy) in the summer of 2020-21. But Emirates Team New Zealand would like to think that the double drawcard of sailing in Auckland, and returning to monohulled boats, might attract more teams than the five challengers in Bermuda this year.

There’s another fish hook: under these proposals, not all bases are created equal. Some spaces are distinctly smaller – designed for teams who choose to bring one boat, instead of the maximum two allowed. It’s unlikely many Cup challengers will build only one yacht – especially with a new class of boat - if they want to be competitive.

When questioned about where an overflow of teams might have to go, Rod Marler, design and place director for Panuku, the city’s regeneration agency, said: “We’d have to find another location for them; or reduce the number of teams who can build two boats.”

Although there are five locations tagged as possibilities, it turns out only three are really viable. And one stands out above the rest.

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