New Zealand will mount another challenge for the America’s Cup after securing sufficient private funding to keep its team afloat.
Emirates Team New Zealand has sourced enough money from sponsors and backers to proceed to the next stage without additional government aid, it said in a statement. The announcement ends mounting speculation in recent weeks that New Zealand, narrowly defeated by Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA last year, wouldn’t be able to finance another shot at winning sailing’s oldest prize.
“The funding support for the team that has coalesced over the past week means we can continue the design and engineering development, and keep racing, until main sponsorship funds begin to flow,” Emirates Team New Zealand Chairman Keith Turner said in the statement. “To avoid falling behind the opposition, our design and engineering team has been working on the software tools they will need for the challenge.”
New Zealand’s 8-9 loss to Oracle in San Francisco in September came after it had led the first-to-nine points regatta 8-1. The defeat dashed the nation’s hopes of hosting a title defense worth hundreds of millions of dollars and raised doubts about its future involvement in the 162-year-old contest.
“While they didn’t win the America’s Cup in San Francisco last time, Team New Zealand were excellent ambassadors for New Zealand throughout what became an epic contest,” Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement. “It’s positive news they will be challenging for the Auld Mug again and I also welcome their announcement they have secured private funding until the end of the year.”
The government last year invested NZ$5 million ($4.3 million) of interim funding in the team to cover a seven-month period while it decided whether it would challenge again. Joyce said the government will consider a revised sponsorship proposal before deciding whether to invest any more. It provided NZ$36 million for the last campaign, which Team New Zealand estimated cost a total of around $100 million.
Entries for the 35th America’s Cup, which is due to be held in 2017, close on Aug. 8, Team New Zealand said today. It will now await the announcement of the venue for the challengers’ preliminary series and then the venue for the challengers’ semi-finals, finals and the America’s Cup match, it said.