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Superyacht and other vessel entry criteria for America's Cup released

by Richard Gladwell/ 21 Jul 2020 19:25 PDT 22 July 2020
Senses - Superyacht - Waitemata Harbour - owned by Google co-founder Larry Page - July 12, 2020 © Richard Gladwell /

The entry process for vessels, including superyachts, to be admitted to New Zealand for the America's Cup while the borders are closed has been released by NZ Marine after negotiations with the responsible NZ government agencies

Currently the border exemption does not apply to people travelling for leisure to enter the country; it does allow vessels to be delivered to NZ for refit, repairs and refurbishment.

Superyachts and pleasure craft are only allowed into New Zealand when there is a compelling reason for the vessel to have a refit or repair in New Zealand and not some other territory. It must also be shown why there is a compelling need for the repairs or refit to be carried out.

Economic benefit for New Zealand is likely to be accepted as a compelling reason, as is value for money, or if there is a special expertise in NZ, or a servicing or manufacturing relationship with a sailmaker or sparmaker, for example.

The vessel's application must be approved by the Director-General of Health, who will take advice from Maritime New Zealand.

To be eligible for an exemption to the closed NZ border, a minimum of $50,000 of refit or repair work must be undertaken and a contract (or a very good email) in place confirming the scope of the work and cost estimate. It is understood that the average spend for visiting yachts and pleasurecraft under 65ft LOA is around $35,000 - and below the $50k minimum - however there is understood to be some flexibility on this point.

Individual crew Applications required

When an application has been approved by Ministry of Health then through a superyacht agent or boat yard the professional crew must apply lodging individual applications, which must be approved by Immigration New Zealand.

Each crew member must have a COVID-19 test in the country of departure, and the results provided to the Ministry of Health. A "Covid-19 symptom declaration" must be made by the master of the vessel to NZ Customs 48 hours before their arrival.

Quarantine in an approved berth

On arrival in New Zealand, the vessel will be required to remain in an approved quarantine berth for 14 days. There are some quarantine berths available at New Zealand yards, and more are expected to be established.

An exception to the Quarantine will be allowed for vessels that have been at sea for more than 28 days, and there has been no contact with people who were not on board when the vessel originally departed for New Zealand.

The crew will need to comply with the usual quarantine conditions for New Zealand - a COVID-19 test on Day 3 and Day 12 plus a symptom check on Day 14.

There must be complete isolation of the vessel during the quarantine period, including the disposal of rubbish and supply of food and services. Quarantine berths are generally required to be under 24 x 7 CCTV surveillance.

Various information sheets and flow charts have been produced by the Ministry of Health, including one that has 21 links to information covering specific instances and procedures. These include procedures if a crew member needs to fly out of New Zealand. In this instance, the crew member and driver must both wear PPE, including a surgical mask and gloves.

No guests allowed

There are procedures in place covering superyacht crew coming to New Zealand for a refit. But there is no specific provision for owners or guests to come to New Zealand to view the America's Cup from a superyacht, or indeed for anyone to enter NZ at all who is not part of an America's Cup team or holder of a New Zealand passport.

However, the Government Cabinet Paper of June 12, seems to accept that there may be "some marginal cases on yachts being delivered for refit or repair where there can be a blurring of roles between owners, crew, and passengers".

Cyclone loophole covers America's Cup

As far as the vessel itself is concerned, it is understood that they do not have to leave NZ between December 31 and April 1, being the Cyclone Season in the SW Pacific and their insurance usually contains a clause requiring them to be out of the cyclone-risk zone, during this period.

On this basis, the vessel and her crew can stay in NZ for a repair/refit and if this also crosses over the December to April cyclone season in the SW Pacific period, then the yacht and crew get the bonus of being in NZ for the the America's Cup.

NZ Marine in association with the Ministry of Health, MBIE, Immigration NZ and Maritime NZ have developed a Step by Step guide to the process to apply for a border exemption for a visiting vessel, this guide is available from member superyacht agents and NZMarine member major boat yards.

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