Where will the 37th America's Cup be?
On the day we were due to find out....16 Sep, 2021
So now we know, or to put it more accurately….now we don’t.
We had been told that the 17 September 2021 was the day on which we would find out where the 37th America’s Cup would be held. And in the lead up there has been plenty of speculation with three venues, outside that of the current Cup holders, being tipped as the main contenders, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Valencia (Spain) and Cork (Ireland).
But, as the NZ deadline came and went a statement from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) and Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) says that there will be an extension to the decision making process.
In the statement RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young said, “For the benefit of both the 37th America’s Cup and the eventual host venue, we would rather allow some more time now so we make the right decision as opposed to a rushed decision.”
The statement goes on to say that:
‘ETNZ and RNZYS believe it is both prudent and responsible to extend the deadline in which the offshore venues can continue to progress negotiations after Covid lockdown in New Zealand has made it impossible for ETNZ team members to visit the venues. It was originally planned to carry out essential face to face meetings and to provide final team feedback to act on Origin Sports Group’s recommendations.
‘ETNZ and RNZYS have had to balance the need for further time to ensure they accept a bid that is in the best interests of the America’s Cup event with the need for Challengers to know the final venue as soon as practicable.
‘Furthermore, on Wednesday morning, ETNZ and RNZYS received a letter from Mark Dunphy regarding the viability of his funding to maintain the event in Auckland. This extension of the process will also allow Mr Dunphy further time to answer the questions we have already put to him over the past month.’
It is this last comment that is particularly intriguing.
There has been a great deal of comment and speculation around the news that a new group of NZ based backers had emerged. And while it sounded like claims were being made that there were sufficient funds to ensure that a NZ based event could take place, it also sounded like there were some serious strings attached to the offer.
ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton is quoted in the statement as saying:
“The fundamental fact is that we have a number of outstanding potential venues literally going down to the wire and all of them with strong and competitive bids on the table and firmly committed to completing agreements in the coming weeks – that’s a good place to be in for sure. It’s frustrating not to have been able to close our agreement with a Host Venue by the planned date of 17 September as previously proposed but we are now giving ourselves more time to work through the final details of the respective venues as the current COVID situation in New Zealand has made the process more difficult.
As we have always maintained throughout, however unlikely it seemed, 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 Auckland event and if it in fact can be fully and completely funded locally. To date there has been no evidence of this being the case.”
It is surely the last sentence that is the most telling and seems to support the view that the offer of funds hasn’t been that straightforward.
So, if you were looking to get the best deal for your flights by booking this weekend well ahead of the 2024 event, you’re going to have to wait a bit.