The Kiwis have long had a reputation as friendly people. However, things are getting a bit testy following Emirates Team New Zealand’s decision to possibly stage its next America’s Defense someplace other than Auckland.
The trouble began this past spring when the team announced it was putting the hosting rights up for bid after negotiations broke down with its traditional partners in New Zealand. At issue—as is so often the case when it comes to the America’s Cup—is money, with CEO Grant Dalton, in particular, making no apologies for abandoning the team’s hometown if it means having a better chance of winning.
Not surprisingly, this has not gone over well with many Cup fans: among them New Zealand’s Mark Dunphy, the multi-millionaire CEO of Greymouth Petroleum, who recently announced he’d assembled a consortium of equally well-healed backers who would bankroll a home-waters defense under the condition Dalton be shown the door.
In true ETNZ fashion, the team quickly responded with a full-throated, self-righteous defense of its longtime leader, a defense that included a little bit of mud throwing as well. According to a team statement: “After a single phone call with Dalts and refusal to meet with management or the ETNZ Board, in our opinion Mr. Dunphy has publicly undermined our team structure…. If anyone has proven they can raise money for the team it’s Dalts. To keep the team afloat over the last 18 years he has raised over $500 million in sponsorship for this team to be able to proudly put New Zealand technology, innovation and sporting talent on a global stage.”
In what will likely be a regular refrain in the event the 37th America’s Cup regatta does indeed end up being held someplace other than Auckland, the statement goes on to say: “As any Kiwi that has travelled understands, you always fly the Kiwi flag prouder when you are doing it offshore. After all, there are significantly more eyeballs to see the remarkable technology and innovation created by ‘the team’ and the country we represent when offshore.”
Inspiring stuff! Imagine the marketing opportunities, kids! Never mind that whoever wrote these words is on the payroll and would undoubtedly like to see as much money as possible rolling into ETNZ’s coffers as well. For the latest on the 37th America’s Cup, click here.