Please select your home edition

America's Cup: Draft plan in place to open Fortress New Zealand to Challengers

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World NZ 22 May 20:15 PDT 23 May 2020
Emirates Team New Zealand expect to have their AC75 Te Aihe back in New Zealand in early-mid June, 2020 © Emirates Team New Zealand

New Zealand's Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield has outlined a likely protocol that will be used for athletes wishing to enter New Zealand.

His comments came in response to a question raised at the daily media conference on Thursday, when he outlined a likely protocol that could be used for athletes wishing to enter New Zealand - bridging the moat around Fortress New Zealand for America's Cup Challengers. However, no date has been set for the introduction of the protocol.

Currently, entry into New Zealand is prohibited to all but NZ Passport holders or those holding Permanent Residence visas. All other nationalities and entry options are forbidden, including non-NZ residents holding a tourist or work visa, seeking to cross the NZ border.

Bloomfield is the NZ Coalition government's principal adviser on strategy relating to the control of the coronavirus in New Zealand.

The timing of the introduction of the protocol will depend on the level of confidence that health and authorities have "as to how things are onshore, and we're also confident about our border arrangements - and that we have got good, robust quarantine and supervised isolation procedures in place.

"Also, we are looking at the role of testing in that setting. We will be moving to testing everybody before they leave isolation or quarantine", Dr Bloomfield added.

"We need to be confident of our border processes, and also that there is a need for people to come in. The opportunity will be there to start opening it up, and we are confident that we can control the risk at the border."

Unfortunately for America's Cup teams wishing to enter New Zealand, Dr Bloomfield could not put a timeframe on when the new protocol could be introduced.

He did elaborate that the additional testing would be done before they departed from managed isolation "and headed off to do their business."

"That will be one of the things we will be doing. Just again as part of that process we need to be confident that we have everything mailed down at the border," he re-emphasised before closing the media conference.

Today, Saturday, there were again no new positive cases of coronavirus and only 28 active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Only one person is in hospital. There have been a total recovered of 1455, and one person is in hospital, the ministry reported in a statement this afternoon.

The number of people who have recovered is 1455, and the total number of cases (active, recovered and fatal) remains at 1504, with a 97% recovery rate and 21 deaths. New Zealand has a population of 5million.

New Zealand has dropped from a Level 4 alert to Level 3 and now Level 2 alert - meaning that people can work from home or a place of business, cafes are open, schools are open, and since Thursday bars and clubs are open - subject to social distancing rules. Many businesses in the hospitality industry are unable to open under these limitations, and there is considerable pressure for the Alert Level to be lowered further or done away with altogether.

New Zealand is quite rapidly de-escalating its Alert Levels to try and head off the serious economic and other damage caused by the Coalition Government's decision to suddenly apply a full lockdown followed by a border closure on March 26.

The comments by the Director-General of Health would appear to have headed off any ability for teams to successfully complain to the Arbitration Panel they were being locked out of New Zealand - opening the way for the 36th America's Cup to be postponed. Or, for the Arbitration Panel to extend its ruling of declaring a Force Majeure to be in existence for the America's Cup itself, with a postponement or cancellation of the event.

The Arbitration Panel made a declaration that a Force Majeure situation existed in UK and Italy on March 18, sanctioning the cancellation of the America's Cup World Series Regattas in Cagliari and Portsmouth UK.

While the challenger teams may be keen to enter New Zealand and commence training as soon as possible, their situation is little different to that of Emirates Team New Zealand who flew out of Auckland for Bermuda on April 17, 2017, to compete in a regatta which started just six weeks later on May 27, 2017.

The first regatta in the 36th America's Cup is set down for December 15, 2020 - with the latest possible arrival date being mid-September, early October, given the Kiwis 2017 campaign timeline, and that the teams need to train and prepare, having not raced a single regatta in the AC75 foiling monohulls.

Bloomfield's response is cold comfort, at this stage to fans hoping to travel to New Zealand, given that some assessment of the need to be in New Zealand seems to be a requirement.

The best hope for fans wishing to come to New Zealand is that a free-travel "bubble" is established between Australia and New Zealand and that maybe that can be extended closer to the end of 2020 to other countries who have coronavirus at an epidemiology elimination level.

However, there is real pressure to open the border gates in a controlled way to alleviate the ongoing damage to the hibernating NZ tourism industry, which contributes $NZ2billion a month to the New Zealand economy. Currently, 85% of New Zealand's hotel accommodation is closed or vacant.

Two of the America's Cup Challengers have indicated they are accepting of the need to undergo a two-week supervised quarantine and to bear the cost of that stay. The position outlined by Dr Bloomfield is similar to that mentioned by Sports and Finance Minister, Grant Robertson on Thursday morning, ahead of Dr Bloomfield's response and thinking.

Related Articles

Baffling Youth America's Cup decision
Rugby deal raises questions over cancellations of Youth America's Cup and other events Leading sailing journalist, editor and winning America's Cup team manager, Alan Sefton comments on the recent rejection by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment of the Youth America's Cup Posted on 17 Sep
America's Cup: Butterworth joins Challenger group
Brad Butterworth to be a contact figure and facilitate a direct communication flow with the hosts Four times America's Cup winner, Brad Butterworth, joins COR 36, Challenger of Record of the 36th America's Cup presented by PRADA, in the capacity of External and Institutional Relations Officer. Posted on 17 Sep
America's Cup: NZ vessels get new marina offer
Silo & Viaduct marinas offer new deal for NZ vessels and offer bond refund for visitor vessels The official marinas of the 36th America's Cup have tacked in response to a wind shift in superyacht visitation rules - opening 28 berths up to Kiwi vessels at standard rates, while offering overseas boats bond refunds. Posted on 16 Sep
America's Cup Rialto: AC75 gymnastics
American Magic's AC75 Defiant performed some spectacular gymnastics on Monday American Magic's AC75 Defiant performed spectacular leaps and nosedives on Monday - when training in winds well above the racing limit. She recovered from both incidents without capsizing despite the high-risk sailing in winds above the racing limits. Posted on 15 Sep
America's Cup Rialto: Sept 14 - Waitemata Rodeo
One squall came through at 30kts gusting 33kts, catching both teams, luckily ETNZ was under tow One squall came through at 30kts gusting 33kts, which caught American Magic, and she wisely waited it out. But it was the lighter 25kt squalls that appeared to catch Defiant at twice - spectacularly losing control as her rudder ventilated. Posted on 15 Sep
America's Cup Rialto: Sept 12 - The 4 o'clocker
Te Aihe could be seen sailing with what looked to be lighter air sails including Code Zeros. On Saturday, Emirates Team New Zealand left the dock at 1000hrs in a 15kts breeze, which eased during the day back to 10-12kts. Te Aihe could be seen sailing off Auckland's East Coast Bays with what looked to be lighter air sails including Code Zeros. Posted on 13 Sep
America's Cup: Flight of the Patriot
American Magic took delivery of its second AC75 at its Auckland base last Friday New York Yacht Club American Magic, a Challenger for the 36th America's Cup, took delivery of its second AC75 racing yacht at its Auckland base on Friday, September 4th, 2020. Posted on 11 Sep
America's Cup: Luna Rossa arrives 'in a few days'
The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli base in Auckland is near complete - team will arrive in a few days The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli base in Auckland which will host the team for the next few months is being completed. The facilities, which will welcome the team in a few days. Posted on 11 Sep
America's Cup: Luna Rossa's AC75 leaves for NZ
The first AC75 of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, is on its way to New Zealand. The first AC75 of the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, which was christened in October 2019, recently left Cagliari and is on its way to New Zealand. Posted on 10 Sep
America's Cup Rialto: Sept 10 - On Course C
American Magic put in a six hour session mostly in the Course C & D area. American Magic put in a six hour session mostly in the Course C & D area. While the US team have sailed many times in the Browns Island and Motuihe Island area, this is the first time we have seen the team sailing in the Course C area Posted on 10 Sep
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERNorth Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterCyclops Marine 2020 - FOOTER