PM likely to be in air for America's Cup final

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 14:01 14/09/2013

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Possibly millions of Kiwis may tune in to watch the final races of the America's Cup in San Francisco. But John Key may not be one of them.

Yesterday, The Dominion Post asked the Beehive where the prime minister would be watching the racing on Monday morning which, fingers crossed, might be the moment the cup is lifted.

"He will be on a plane from Auckland to Wellington," a spokeswoman said.

Later last night his office said that while Key would not be able to watch the race live he would see some of it.

"We watched this morning's start at the Air NZ lounge and then listened to the commentary as long as we could (before boarding another flight) on the America's Cup app."

The rejection of a simple photo opportunity is the latest episode in a confusing quest to work out whether Key even likes the America's Cup.

In July, amid a fresh court battle, he acknowledged that victory would be good for Auckland tourism, but seemed to have little interest in the sport.

"In the end if they win it will be fantastic for tourism. But you do get a bit frustrated with these billionaires fighting over different legal rulings as opposed to getting on and playing the sport."

A source with knowledge of Team New Zealand claims some of the crew were offended by Key's comments.

Last week, Key continued to distance himself from the government decision to give the syndicate $36m to ensure it could mount a campaign in San Francisco.

With New Zealand the talk of Silicon Valley, Key was asked if the spending had turned out to be good value for taxpayers' money? "Come and ask me if they win."

Later in the week, he was preparing the ground for awards, reportedly suggesting that a knighthood for Dean Barker was "worthy of consideration" if Team New Zealand won.

However, it seemed he was still seeking reassurance. "It's a pretty awesome thing, isn't it - the America's Cup?"

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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