America’s Cup 2021: Government’s $5 million pledge a ‘drop in the bucket’

The $5 million Government funding pledge for Team New Zealand has been described as a “drop in the bucket” of what would be needed to keep the America’s Cup holders together, and secure another defence in New Zealand.

Minister Responsible for the America’s Cup Stuart Nash announced shortly after Wednesday’s successful defence that the Government would provide $5m initial funding to help ensure team members weren’t snapped up by rival cashed-up syndicates.

But a cup insider told the Herald yesterday that much more would be needed from the Government both to retain key syndicate intellectual property – including both sailing crew and members of the design and tech team – as well as ensure the next defence was sailed in New Zealand waters.

The source said that figure would be close to the “$50 million” mark.

They said the initial funding pledge was a “mere drop in the bucket” of what would be required, adding: “That is just a good night out for [Sir James] Radcliffe … it’s peanuts”.

Radcliffe is the owner of unsuccessful challengers Team Ineos UK; the syndicate reported to be in talks with Team New Zealand for a two-team America’s Cup duel next year off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

“He has the resources to basically pay for Team NZ to do that race and put them in a financial position so they can then defend the cup next time round if Team NZ wins, presumably back in Auckland.”

Finance Minister Grant Robertson yesterday said he believed a lot of New Zealanders wanted to see the America’s Cup hosting stay here.

Asked how far the Government was willing to go to keep the America’s Cup in New Zealand, Robertson replied: “What we now have to do is enter into the discussions you would expect.”

He would not discuss whether the Government was willing to match any rival bids to host the Cup.

“Those are discussions for another day.”

When asked whether previous investments had been worth it for the 2021 defence, given the borders were closed, Robertson said: “Clearly from the point of national pride, I certainly think it’s worth it.And also it continues to be an event where we get a lot of economic benefits, for example in the boatbuilding industry, the designers, the innovators.

“Obviously we weren’t able to have all the international spectators we would have liked, but from the Government’s perspective, our major investment this time was in facilities and I think those facilities at the Wynyard Quarter are going to be a legacy for generations.”

Auckland Council and the Government provided $249.5m in funding combined towards the 36th America’s Cup. The Government portion totalled $136.5m for construction, the event fee and commercial and base-related costs.

Meanwhile, backing for the Cup defence to be raced overseas has been offered by the man behind stunning America’s Cup broadcast graphics, Sir Ian Taylor from Animation Research.

He told Newstalk ZB if it was held overseas, it would put the team’s leading-edge technology truly on the world map.

He said there wasn’t too much coverage of the 36th America’s Cup in the likes of The Guardian or the New York Times.

“I think we have to step back and ask what is best for New Zealand,” he said.

“Do we benefit just by holding it here and everyone cramming around the shores, or could we benefit better by taking that valuable IP that has been created and one of the fastest boats ever built and putting it on the world stage where you can then expect 10-12 teams to respond.

“I think that is possibly a way better return on any investment.”

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