Political wrangling and last-minute deals have delayed the announcement of the location of the 37th America’s Cup. Helen Fretter reports
The eagerly awaited announcement of the venue for the 37th America’s Cup, due to be released today (Friday, September 17), has been postponed.
In a statement on Thursday evening, the holders of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Cup (RNZYS) and Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), confirmed that they are extending the selection period for shortlisted sites in order to provide more information for support their candidacies to host the next America’s Cup.
RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young said: âFor the benefit of both the 37th America’s Cup and the eventual venue, we prefer to allow a little more time now to make the right decision rather than a rushed decision. . “
The delay was caused by a number of factors, including strict restrictions on travel to New Zealand, which made it difficult for key personnel to travel to overseas venues wishing to host the Cup.
But there has also been plenty of political wrangling in Auckland, with New Zealand businessman Mark Dunphy adding more details to a last-minute offer to keep the event in Auckland.
Dunphy, who is CEO and chairman of Greymouth Petroleum, recently called for the resignation of ETNZ boss Grant Dalton, so there is clearly no love lost between the two. However, the potential of a home defense will appeal to many in New Zealand.
Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ, commented: âThe bottom line is that we have a number of outstanding potential sites literally falling on the edge and all with strong and competitive deals on the table and firmly committed to closing. agreements in the next few weeks – it’s a good place to be for sure.
“It is frustrating that we were not able to close our deal with a host site on the scheduled date of September 17 as previously proposed, but we are now giving ourselves more time to work on the final details of the respective sites such as the current situation of the COVID in New Zealand has made the process more difficult.
âAs we have always argued throughout, unlikely as it may sound, Auckland has never been off the table for obvious reasons. So now that we finally have an 11th hour letter from Mr Dunphy , it would be remiss of us not to explore the viability of an event in Auckland and whether it can in fact be fully and fully funded locally.To date, there is no evidence that this is the case. “
INEOS Team UK commented on social media: âAs the Challenger of Record, we continue to help the Defender negotiate a venue decision as soon as possible, as we appreciate the importance of this decision for all teams seeking to fight for the 37th America’s Cup. . “
The process of selecting the host site for AC37 has been both busy and widely speculated. Offers are made and considered behind closed doors, with few public announcements until the final decision. However, these are the places known to have been in contention:
Where will the 37th America’s Cup take place?
New Zealand was the only country in the world that could have hosted such a “normal” and successful 36th America’s Cup during the Covid era, thanks to its strict border controls. However, those same border checks meant that the huge revenue that would have been generated from tourism, touring superyachts and other Cup-related events (like the canceled Youth America’s Cup) simply never materialized.
Securing public interest in sailing is never an issue in New Zealand, the country is arguably the most passionate America’s Cup nation in the world. But securing public funds is quite another thing.
Auckland had an exclusive period to bid for the 37th America’s Cup, but the sums on offer weren’t enough, and Dalton widened the net internationally after rejecting an offer of NZ $ 99 million ( Â£ 50million) from the New Zealand government.
âOur point of view is that we want it to be hosted here. We have done our best, but there are also limits to what we can do, âNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told local radio station Radio Hauraki in June.
Auckland has never been ruled out, however, and New Zealand fans must hope Dunphy’s controversial offer for a home defense will attract additional private backers.
From a sporting standpoint, defending the America’s Cup at home – or trying to snatch it away from the Kiwis in their own port – would give the 37th America’s Cup a true tale of heart and soul that would be hard to beat.
Valencia, host city of the 2007 America’s Cup and 2010 Deed of Gift Match, was widely regarded as one of the favorites to host the 37th Cup, until officials confirmed the city withdrew its candidacy last week .
However, this was quickly followed by the announcement that an all-Spanish bid, including events in Valencia and Barcelona, ââwas still ongoing.
In a written statement, the All Spain group said: “We can confirm that our discussions with Team New Zealand and America’s Cup Event Ltd continue to progress very positively with the support of the Spanish Prime Minister and the Spanish central government continuing to work with us to finalize details and event proposals These discussions started a few months ago.
A surprising outsider, Cork, on the southwest coast of Ireland, has become a favorite in the bidding competition for the host site.
However, Ireland requested more time to prepare their candidacy, which led Marcus Spillane, vice president of World Sailing from Cork, to vehemently criticize the Irish government in the Irish Examiner. “Ireland will never host an Olympics or a FIFA World Cup,” he said.
âThe America’s Cup is a global sporting event. We went straight to the finish line and then decided not to take the extra step. It shows a lack of imagination and ambition.
âI understand the need for value for money, but let’s be clear: you get an opportunity like this once every 15-20 years and when you do you have to seize the opportunity. “
This delay is unlikely to be as long as the Irish offer hoped, but could still put them back in the fray.
From a sailing perspective, the idea of ââracing the AC75s in the Celtic Sea – not to mention the onshore fun of an America’s Cup at Crosshaven – certainly has the potential to make an event to be remembered.
Jeddah. Saudi Arabia
There have been worryingly few public announcements regarding this offer, although it has been widely seen as one of the more likely scenarios. Moving the America’s Cup to the Middle East could solve New Zealand’s funding problems and draw a clear line with the long-standing former supporters of the Emirates airline defender.
A move to Saudi Arabia would be hugely unpopular among many Cup fans, thanks to the country’s stance on environmental issues, civil liberties and women’s rights – especially in light of the recent announcement of a class AC40 for a Women’s and Youth America’s Cup. Yet in the unpredictable world of the America’s Cup, nothing can be excluded.
Cowes, Doha and Singapore
These three offers should not be among the four that were still on the table in the finals.
The idea of ââa Deed of Gift match in the Solent between New Zealand and the Challenger of Record, INEOS Team UK, generated great interest among UK sailing fans and could have provided a memorable event with fewer challenges. logistics as the race to New Zealand during the pandemic. However, neither British nor New Zealand donors seem to want to fund a âprivateâ competition.
Doha was previously in talks alongside Jeddah as a potential option location to host the Cup in the Arabian Peninsula. However, Qatar’s role in the ongoing political developments in the Middle East must make this increasingly unlikely.
Everything is very calm around Singapore’s offer for AC37 as well. Like many Arab countries, Singapore has positioned itself as a venue for major international sporting events, such as golf and F1, but with much less controversy, the Southeast Asian country could still prove to be a viable option.
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