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America's Cup update: Ashby, Junior and Maloney re-signed; Budget explained; hydrogen boat build

by Billy Woodworth, RNZYS Media 6 Dec 2021 23:38 PST
Re-signed mainsail trimmer Glenn Ashby with Team Principal Matteo de Nora - after winning AC36 - Emirates Team NZ - America's Cup - Day 7 - March 17, 2021 © Richard Gladwell / / nz

It’s been a challenging time for all of us in Auckland but it’s worth remembering that despite it feeling like a lifetime ago, it was only 8 months ago in March this year that we managed to both stage and retain the Americas Cup while dodging COVID19 uncertainties and restrictions as a free and inclusive event for all of New Zealand.

It has been a very busy eight months since then for the wider Emirates Team New Zealand team, on a number of design and build projects as well as the Protocol that set the foundation of the 37th America’s Cup Campaign.

The Protocol

The Protocol and AC75 Class Rule V2 were published on the 17th November and was developed over a busy few months working with the Challenger of Record, INEOS Britannia and RYS Ltd. We are grateful for the constructive way in which Sir Ben and his team approached the “negotiation” of this defining document. A huge thanks to our Commodore Aaron Young for his leadership and efforts in supporting the delivery of a Protocol which will mark a new era in the history of the Auld Mug. Bertie Bicket, Chairman of Royal Squadron Ltd also deserves our thanks and the relationship between our two respective squadrons has been deepened through the process and will only be of mutual benefit to both fine yacht clubs and their members for the future.

The key features of the Protocol have been well traversed in the media. It is very progressive in many respects with a focus on reduced costs, sustainability and a true pathway for women’s participation along with the Women’s America’s Cup and a return of the Youth Americas Cup. And certainly it has been developed with the global growth of our sport of sailing and the America’s Cup in mind which should always be the responsibility of any Defender and Trustee.

The Venue

We had hoped to announce the Venue by 17th September, which was only 6 months after the final race of AC36, in hindsight we were too optimistic. But the up side of it has been we have kept the foot on the pedal processing all venue options as fast as possible. In the past, venues haven’t been confirmed for some considerable time post the final race and we had wanted, as always to deliver earlier. For context, after Valencia in 2010 it took 10 months to finalise San Francisco as the venue for AC34. After the final race of AC34, it took 15 months to announce Bermuda for the 35th America’s Cup, and then once we managed win the America’s Cup back in 2017 it still took 14 months to finalise the detail and formally announce Auckland as the venue for AC36.

These timeframes illustrate that whilst much is made of the critical issue of funding, the terms and conditions attached to that funding are of equal importance and it is this piece of the host venue deal that can be very complex and takes time to work through. Each venue or city has their own needs and wants and of course we are very clear on what is needed to deliver a spectacular global event.

It’s worth stating categorically that this is not, and never has been a process of selecting the highest bidder for the venue as some have been disingenuously stating and leading many to believe. This is utterly incorrect.

The Numbers

The budget for the 37th America’s Cup varies little be it in Auckland or internationally. It comprises what we know are the costs needed in New Zealand for both the team $120m (ETNZ) and the event $80m (AC37) and this total budget of $200m has never changed.

Importantly of this overall $200m budget in New Zealand, ETNZ have committed to raising $80m of the total. Specifically the ‘ask’ for all the venues is essentially $120m but varying slightly for overseas costs such as accommodation.

These budgets and the endless detailed line items are developed bottom up by people with up to 30 years’ experience in the America’s Cup. People like Grant Dalton, Kevin Shoebridge, Richard Meacham, Chris Salthouse, Sean Regan, Geoff Senior, Dan Bernasconi, Steve Collie, Martin McElwee, Russell Green, Glenn Ashby and Burns Fallow. The powerful combined knowledge of what is needed to run all aspects of a successful yachting campaign and an event of the required standards of a commercially enticing global sporting event through award winning broadcast and for sponsors of which are some of the biggest brands in the world. Not some cherry picked numbers that those out of touch with reality think will be OK and ‘available’.

It should be noted that the event budget of $80m is already considerably less (almost half) that what was spent in total for AC36 when you also consider the contribution that COR36 made to the event. The AC36 Event Report clearly quotes COR36: “Prada and COR invested over $150 million NZD in the 36th America’s Cup, a significant percentage of which went into the on-water and on-land operations and the Race Village…” This obviously was in addition to the $45m that ACE also put towards the event. A vital make up of numbers that the cherry pickers continue to neglect.

As mentioned, it is primarily the same budget we put to Auckland and New Zealand negotiators as we have put to other venues. The cost is the cost- it’s the terms and conditions that vary amongst the venue cities we are working with. In respect of New Zealand we didn’t get to a point to negotiate the terms and conditions (known here as the HVA Host Venue Agreement) as the required funding costs could not be met by the Government and Council, which we have said all along was fair and reasonable given the financial constraints on the country after COVID19.

The Team

As the detail in the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup illustrates the team and its 60+ staff already have not been sitting back doing nothing. It has been hammer down already on a number of projects.

It is no easy task putting the Protocol itself together, and Russell and Harry our in house legal team deserve a special mention to the long nights and many weekends of work to get that across the line with their counter parts are the Challenger of Record. Also the Class Rule led by Dan Bernasconi is like developing a legal document by having the ability to look into the future of innovation. These documents have been a priority to set the course for the other Challengers that have been standing by to see the roadmap ahead for AC37 before entering which a number of teams have already done.

Meanwhile the build team at the North Shore ETNZ build facility have been full on making great progress on the build of the prototype Hydrogen foiling Chase boat due for trial early next year. The design team have been progressing the exciting AC40 Class to be used in the Women’s and Youth America’s Cup events as well as setting the all-important foundations of the design tools to be used for the one AC75 permitted to build for the 37th America’s Cup.

We are continuing to strengthen our team with a number of new hires and address a number of issues raised in a thorough team wide review after the end of AC36.

In addition to our amazing design, build and production teams, we have an incredibly strong sailing team with the Glenn, Andy, Josh, Ray all returning, as well as the new signing of Nathan Outteridge which has been very popular and provides a considerable addition of experience.

Furthermore the other part of our team- the RNZYS, our relationship remains as strong as it has ever been. It is this relationship and the strength and mutual respect of it that has made us the most formidable team in modern America’ Cup history, winning the America’s Cup four times since 1995. The link between club and team is the envy of all Challengers, but regrettably one that is being tested from the inside rather than externally.

In conclusion, the team is looking forward to clarifying any further misinformation that still exists for members on Thursday

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