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Gladwell's Line - 4th AC Challenger.. New superyacht facility

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 7 Jun 15:30 PDT 8 June 2018
Land Rover BAR splits tacks with Softbank Team Japan - Leg 3 - Race 13 - Round Robin2, America's Cup Qualifier - Day 8, June 3, 2017 (ADT) © Richard Gladwell

Adapted from Sail-World NZ newsletter editorial of June 6, 2018. To sign up for Sail-World NZ's free newsletter, or review past newsletters click here

Plenty has happened over the past week in the sailing world despite the appalling weather in New Zealand.

Firstly we were advised on Wednesday morning that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has accepted a fourth Challenge for the 36th America's Cup.

It is from the much rumoured Sardinian Challenge - Adelasia di Torres - and is the second challenge that has been accepted from Italy. The challenging club is understood to be Circolo Nautico Arzachena. The first of course being the Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa.

The Sardinian team has frequently been in the news, the last occasion being three weeks ago with a big splash in the Italian media. Our guess is that exposure was prompted by the submission of the Challenge to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, to go through the vetting process.And that somewhere there was a leak - intentional or otherwise.

While most of the Kiwi media seem to be pushing down on the number of Challengers that are likely, our guess is that the "No Vacancy" sign will be posted at Viaduct Harbour come the end of June.

Technically entries don't close until November 30, 2018, but those lodged after June 30, 2018 are subject to a USD$1million late entry fee, as well as the Entry fee (first payment) of the same amount. A second entry fee payment (USD$1million) is due for regular entries on November 30, 2018. Plus there's a Performance Bond of USD$1million to be paid at the end of July 2018.

The point being that for Challengers, there is some serious money to be outlaid in the next six months - although the second Entry Fee can be made in four equal instalments before August 31, 2019.

Don't forget that Emirates Team New Zealand along with Groupama Team France was on a similar layby Entry scheme in the lead-up to the 2017 America's Cup. These sums are not easily sourced for those who think they are "ice-cream money".

There is little point in a team holding out on entering past the end of June. They have no voting rights on America's Cup matters - and as the Kiwis and French found out in the run-up to 2017 - that can have serious consequences (which they were able to short-circuit at the time by an early final payment).

The Sardinian Challenge has always been talked of as one of the weaker potential teams, unlikely to go ahead etc. So it was a pleasant surprise to see the release, this morning, confirming the Challenge had been approved and accepted. Despite the deadlines above, the team has to come up with USD$1million entry fee within ten days of the entry being accepted. All entry fees are non-refundable. Entering the America's Cup is for serious players only.

Little is known of the new team, but over the coming weeks there will be a lot of querying and probing done by the sailing media. Three weeks ago we requested confirmation from the team and got a polite "neither confirm nor deny" response along with a direction to the team website - which didn't say a lot more and still doesn't.

The other big news on the America's Cup-related front, is the announcement that the seemingly stalled Orams Marine/Site 18 Superyacht facility on the western side of Wynyard point will be going ahead.

The project has been three years in the making, and the announcement hopefully will have thwarted any loss of America's Cup superyacht visitor spend to the recently announced Queensland facility.

As we noted in an earlier story (highlighting amongst other issues, the lack of understanding of the superyacht industry and America's Cup by several members of the Auckland Council's Governing Body), the adoption new Orams/Site 18 facility signals an acceptance that superyacht servicing is considerably more than just a $30million a year business, of which 35-40% is spent on oil changes.

The aggressive Queensland plan to capitalise on the 200 superyachts they have cruising the Australian coastline has done the Orams application no harm. It confirmed the existing business was worth AUD$600million a year, and with further investment and marketing, that could be expanded to AUD$1.1billion a year.

One of the disturbing aspects of the whole America's Cup bases saga and the paraphernalia of surrounding issues has been how many decisions are based on dogma, and with a complete lack of personal research by decision makers. The advice given by those who have done the research is often quite happily ignored for the sake of making some political point.

That approach came very close indeed to costing Auckland the hosting rights for the America's Cup. The same muddling would have seen a lot of the America's Cup benefit disappear to Queensland.

While some may struggle with accepting the economic value touted by the various forecasts, it is a fact that when a superyacht ties up in Auckland, the money starts to flow. Pretending otherwise is nonsensical. Otherwise everyone would have a superyacht. They look after themselves, don't they?

Hopefully the events of the past six months or so mark a realisation for the Marine Industry that it cannot sit idly by and wave as the opportunities slide past, while the politicians push their own agendas.

Don't miss Suzanne McFadden's ">www.sail-world.com/news/206091/Kevin-Shoebridge-on-plans-for-2021-Am-Cup-Defence"> excellent interview with Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Kevin Shoebridge on the state of play with the America's Cup in Auckland. At long last, it seems as though there is a plan in place and progress being made.

The Volvo Ocean Race is now tucked up in Cardiff, with two European Legs yet to be sailed.

In the past the final stages have often been just a sail past, with the winner almost already decided. However, that is not the case with the current Volvo OR, and the last two legs will be hotly contested by three boats - right down to the last metre of the course when the 45,000nm race finishes in The Hague at the end of this month.

The announcement confirms that the next edition of the race will be under new management and will be held in 2021.

Over the long weekend we interviewed Johan Salen, one of the new owners of the Race. Hopefully, that story will be up in a day or two. There is not a lot of detail available on the next race. It is very much in the gestation/consultation process with existing teams, sponsors, and other stakeholders (much as we dislike that dreadful term).

Volvo will be remaining as a sponsor - so outwardly there will be no change in perception of the race, which remarkably has had just two naming rights sponsors in its 35-year history.

No decisions have been made on the boats, despite the talk in the media release about running two classes.

The new owners of the Volvo Ocean Race will be getting out of the boat ownership business. Only two of the current eight Volvo 65's are privately owned. The other six are chartered from race organisers.

The deal is not done to use the IMOCA60's. While many are keen to see this class used, it must work for the Volvo Ocean Race as well as the existing IMOCA fleet.

Remembering of course, that the IMOCA60 is a shorthanded boat usually used for singlehanded or two-handed crews. Remembering too that the last time the two-class race was tried, it was mired in controversy as to whether the Volvo 60 had been dumbed down not to show up the maxi yacht fleet.

One of the features of the current race has been the coverage from the OBR's and particularly their pioneering work with drone coverage of the race fleet.

It is hard to see how a Volvo Ocean Race could proceed without the dedicated OBR's and their drones. Equally, it is hard to see how the OBR's could be accommodated in a short-handed crew.

The Questions are easy. The Answers are more difficult.

Finally a small apology for being little late and short on content with our America's Cup 12 months Tribute Series - we are taking the opportunity to go right through our photo files for each day and reprocessing the best shots. Unfortunately this was not possible in Bermuda due to time constraints, having shot 6-8000 images per day. Once the Semi-Finals are complete there is plenty of opportunity to catch up and back-fill content. Most of the shots being run are new, and also there are shots which with the benefit of hindsight show details whose significance was not always appreciated at the time.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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