Grant Dalton has a fight on his hands to save Team New Zealand and keep the America’s Cup moving forward to the satisfaction of everyone.
Delight in Britain and despair in Italy – there have been contrasting reactions in Europe to Team New Zealand looking at offshore options for hosting the next America’s Cup.
Confirmation of the defenders rejecting the New Zealand government and Auckland offer of $99m continues to reverberate around the yachting scene as they await Team New Zealand’s next move.
Magnus Wheatley, the well-informed British yachting pundit is based in Cowes, a leading candidate amongst potential venues, and as the town get set to host a national regatta this weekend, he noted: “The place is buzzing and my goodness, the whispers have started. ‘It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming … the Cup is coming home!’ was the purloined football chant being hummed quietly by all and sundry after yesterday’s news. You have to pinch yourself to believe it.”
The two sailors can see both sides of the tough situation but also have an Olympics defence to focus on as well.
Wheatley concluded another lively edition of his well-read Rule69blog by surmising: “Sailing in the UK is booming. Call it a Covid bounce, call it a result of the America’s Cup, call it whatever you will, but it’s thriving, and it’s great to see. Participation from the juniors upwards is building – bring the Auld Mug to the Solent, and it will explode.
* America’s Cup: What will happen to industries that surround the Cup if it leaves NZ?
* America’s Cup: Peter Burling backs Grant Dalton in ‘tricky’ hosting equation
* America’s Cup: The hosting contenders
“The Solent is ready and willing to put on the greatest show on earth … now who’s going to call ‘starboard’ on Te Rehutai (Team New Zealand’s boat) or Rita (Team UK’s boat) at 53 knots? You know it’s going to happen.”
But the development hasn’t gone down so well elsewhere. Despite the prospect of the Cup coming north to Europe and closer waters, it seems not everyone in Italy is happy, particularly at the prospect of a UK-based venue.
“It’s not a good scene. There is no escaping the feeling that it is all a ballet with an already written ending,” Saily.it wrote of Team New Zealand’s decision to turn down the Auckland offer.
They felt the development pointed to the regatta being in Britain, as has been speculated since March and heightened by Team New Zealand aligning with Team UK as the new challenger of record, replacing Italy’s Luna Rossa.
“If you refuse an offer that is close to the average budget of a Cup campaign, and that comes from your government, therefore from your people, it means that you have a different and much more substantial offer in your pocket,” continued Saily.it.
“… That the best sailing team in the world suddenly runs out of money and is at the mercy of friends and enemies is something that is out of place.
“If there really is a hypothesis of a Cup transferred to Great Britain because INEOS finances and keeps Team New Zealand alive, it will be necessary that this process be explained in detail, And it won’t be easy for him to pass the Deed of Gift exam,” the column continued in a threatening manner.
“Do they want to turn the America’s Cup upside down? They say it clearly. English commentators are already circulating, gloating and talking about the Cup to be refounded, about business models, about a new dawn.”
The Italian yachting site urged Dalton to take the Kiwi government offer and add what he could from “billionaire friends, who are also not lacking in the team’s entourage”.
“The 37th America’s Cup must be in Auckland in 2024. Any other hypothesis will have to be fought, or it will simply not be the America’s Cup.”