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America's Cup: ETNZ Principal Matteo de Nora on the venue hosting process and outcome

by Fabio Pozzo, La Stampa 1 Apr 2022 14:59 PDT 2 April 2022
Emirates Team New Zealand Principal Matteo de Nora in a reflective mood at the America's Cup Winner's Media Conference - Bermuda June 26, 2017 © Richard Gladwell

Emirates Team New Zealand Principal Matteo de Nora, was interviewed by top Italian sailing journalist Fabio Pozzo to gauge his thoughts and advice on the Barcelona venue, as a long-time mentor of ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton, and backer of the current America's Cup champion and twice winner of the Cup.

A resident of Monaco, Matteo de Nora first became involved with Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2000 and 2003 America's Cup when one of his companies provided batteries for the team. In 2003 after taking a call from the then newly appointed CEO, de Nora stepped up his involvement with the team - and the rest is history.

Fabio Pozzo: You have respected the date of March 31 and for many it was not taken for granted.

Matteo de Nora: "We have respected the timing, indicating the location of the America’s Cup earlier than had been done in other editions. And it wasn't easy, with the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine ”.

Fabio Pozzo: Was it easier to choose Barcelona?

Matteo de Nora: "Far from it. All the candidate cities had something that made them competitive and attractive. Barcelona, of course, needs no introduction, but in the end it turned out to be the one that met a broader set of requirements than the other candidate locations. Here, then, we have found an exceptional enthusiasm and a mayor who is very clo?se to his city ”.

Fabio Pozzo: There was another Spanish candidate, Malaga, who, however, seems to have lost in the final rush.

Matteo de Nora: “Malaga was a great project, which I personally liked a lot. But he wouldn't have had time to make it happen by 2024, we should have gone to 2025 ”.

Fabio Pozzo: What about Cork, Ireland?

Matteo de Nora: “Another beautiful city, moreover with optimal conditions for the race course, because it has a basin that looks like an artificial lake, but it is the sea. And certainly speaking the same language would have facilitated relations between the local authorities and Team New Zealand. However, it did not offer the same facilities in terms of reception and infrastructure and transport as in Barcelona ”.

Fabio Pozzo: Perhaps Jeddah in Arabia was the most criticized candidacy, for political and social issues.

Matteo de Nora: "A distinction must be made between how Saudi Arabia is perceived and how it actually is. I've been there several times, it's an incredible country, populated above all by young people, which had a very important project linked to sport and the America's Cup in particular. It was the only location, for example, that would have financed 100% the women's America's Cup. "

Fabio Pozzo: I broaden the speech: no requests from Italy?

Matteo de Nora: "None. I personally would have liked it. For example, Trieste ".

Fabio Pozzo: Well, let's move on. Obviously, by choosing to defend the Cup abroad, because you did not find the necessary resources in your homeland, you have exposed yourself to criticism in New Zealand.

Matteo de Nora: “The criticisms would have been there anyway. If we had had the government money, there would have been those who would have said that that public money should not have been spent on the Cup, but on public works ”.

Fabio Pozzo: The government offered you $ 99 million Kiwi.

Matteo de Nora: "In fact, a large part, about 65 million were in infrastructure."

Fabio Pozzo: Isn't Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern passionate about sailing?

Matteo de Nora: "That's not the point. The Kiwi government has faced large expenses to preserve the country from Covid. And I say, he did well. In light of this there is now also a phase of austerity ”.

Fabio Pozzo: Well, New Zealand was one of the most armored countries in the world for the pandemic.

Matteo de Nora: “But it helped. Also at the America’s Cup. What would have become of the event if we had had continuous cases of contagion in the teams? Fortunately, TV and the web have brought great audience results"

Fabio Pozzo: You will have read the criticisms coming from New Zealand. They accuse you of being mercenaries, of chasing the money.

Matteo de Nora: “We are not actually leaving New Zealand, our base is there and it will stay there until the end. And the money we receive is almost all spent in New Zealand. And anyway, I am also receiving many messages from New Zealand from those who tell me that 2024 will be a good opportunity to visit Barcelona ".

Fabio Pozzo: On purpose. There is talk of over 75 million euros as a public part fee.

Matteo de Nora: "Yes, roughly. But it is a broader package, which also includes private resources ”.

Fabio Pozzo: We keep talking about money.

Matteo de Nora: “Besides, I don't see what's wrong with that, wanting to keep talking about money. One of our objectives was and is to ensure the necessary resources for the team to better defend the Cup. And it will not be easy, because our current advantage will fail if it is not implemented. Winning the America’s Cup three times in a row will be damn hard. I don't even think there are precedents, I should go and check and in any case the results of the past could not be compared to those of today. And then, there is the objective linked to the event ".

Fabio Pozzo: We come now to Emirates Team New Zealand. How is the atmosphere in the team? It was said of tensions between the top management and the champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who had delayed the signing. He had told himself that they wanted to count more, that they wanted more salary money.

Matteo de Nora: "The atmosphere is good and there are not tensions. There was an open discussion with Burling and Tuke to clarify that the America’s Cup, precisely because it is damn hard to win again, should be a priority. We are talking about champions who can do everything and are in demand everywhere ”.

Fabio Pozzo: I insist. Did they want a higher salary?

Matteo de Nora: "Money is not the reason why you board Team New Zealand".

Fabio Pozzo: While we're at it, let's talk about Dalton too.

Matteo de Nora: "He is a man who surprises me every time, positively obvious. He has very clear ideas, he knows that it will be difficult for us to win, he is aware that there are very strong challengers and he is committed and motivated to raise the technological bar of the America 's Cup and the importance of 'event ".

Fabio Pozzo: And Matteo de Nora? The adventure began in 2003, together with Dalton you are among the architects of the last two Kiwi Cup victories.

Matteo de Nora: "Well, for the next two years I still have the America's Cup. The truth is, it's hard to leave the America's Cup and the team. And then, it's a very difficult timing issue: you can't leave after losing, because you have to make up for it and you can't do it after winning because it would be too easy ".

For the full interview in Italian:

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