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America's Cup: Port backs down over course closure - fans are the big winner

by Emirates Team NZ/Sail-World NZ 3 Nov 2020 14:16 PST 4 November 2020
Emirates Team New Zealand and American Magic - Stadium Course - Waitemata Harbour - September 21, 2020 © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

Ports of Auckland have announced that it will facilitate the use of the inner harbour races courses (B and C) for all racing for all regattas the 36th America’s Cup event.

Previously, based on an agreement made last February between all parties, including the Defender and Challenger, Stadium Courses B (Rangitoto Channel) and C (Inner Waitemata)would not have been available for racing in the Round Robin and Semi-Final phases of the Prada Cup.

CEO Tony Gibson said “We wanted the public to be able to enjoy the America’s Cup races as much as possible, so we looked again at the impact of racing on the port’s operations.”

“The situation has changed considerably since January. Because cruise ships are no longer able to visit Auckland, we now believe we can successfully manage freight operations even with closures to the shipping channel for racing. We will work with shipping lines to ensure there is minimal impact on their operations and to keep Auckland’s freight flowing,” he said.

“We are very pleased to be able to support the event in this way.”

Grant Dalton said he was grateful for Ports of Auckland’s understanding of what was at stake for the people of New Zealand, the worldwide TV audience and the spectators being able to watch the racing from land.

“Tony and his team have stepped up to help Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and America’s Cup Event Ltd (ACE) deliver on the promise we made years ago, to make this America’s Cup the most accessible and inclusive event ever.”

Last week ETNZ filed a request for Mediation with the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel which has now been rejected due to at least one of the Challengers not agreeing to mediation.

In parallel to this request, ETNZ and ACE talked to Ports of Auckland about a secondary solution because of the critical importance of making sure that racing could happen on the inner harbour courses as envisaged.

In solving this problem, Ports of Auckland have agreed to accommodate a further 10 official race days and six reserve days during the Prada Cup Round-Robin and Semi-Final, ensuring all courses are available to all teams.

The shipping channel will need to be closed between 13:00 and 19:00 on days when courses B and C are used for racing. This is to allow race and spectator boats time to get to the courses, for racing to be completed and to clear the course so ships can come in and out safely.

The decision on what racecourse is used each day is the responsibility of the Regatta Director.

S-W:There is no further requirement the matter to be referred back to the Arbitration Panel as the original decision was conditional on there being some restriction on race course areas. With that restriction now removed the Arbitration Panel decision is redundant.

"If any part of the course area of the CSS and the Match (e.g. Courses B and/or C) are not accessible with no restriction at any time in accordance with Art. 3.4 of the Protocol, then that part of the course area will be used neither for the CSS nor for the Match."

The three regattas - Christmas Cup, Prada Cup and America's Cup will now take place using Course Areas A-E, with the Regatta Director determining which course area will be used each day. The Regatta Director will also determine when the Challenger and Defender will be able to use the various course areas for practice while the Prada Cup and America's Cups are underway.

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