Yacht race still needs business patronage

OLIVIA TAYLOR-PEEBLES
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2013

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The Auckland to Bluff ocean yacht race failed to attract any major sponsors, eight months out from the event.

A race organiser, SMC events manager Craig Seuseu, said they were involved in talks with potential sponsors but none had signed up yet.

"We're talking to a bunch of people at this stage but we don't have anyone signed . . . any of the major sponsors," he said.

Invercargill City Council is still involved with the race organisers, who are pushing ahead with their plans despite the funding uncertainty.

Environment Southland last week rejected council's request for an $180,000 injection of funds into the project for moorings and infrastructure at Bluff.

The race is budgeted to cost $1.5 million should it go ahead in February.

In December, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce announced the Government would contribute $440,000.

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokesman said this week that funding was conditional on the race organisers meeting standard and event specific conditions, including monthly report requirements, contracted deliverables and key performance indicators.

He could not provide details of the conditions as they were commercially sensitive but said the ministry had no concerns about the event's financial viability.

Of the $380,000 contribution race organisers require from Southland, only $100,000 from the city council was confirmed.

City council chief executive Richard King said a further $50,000 was promised by the Community Trust of Southland.

However, Community Trust grants manager Dianne Williams yesterday said that, before the trust finalised its contribution, all other funding arrangements had to be in place.

"[The grant] hasn't been handed over," she said.

Mr Seuseu said that race representatives intended to visit Invercargill in a couple of weeks to discuss the race and related events with the public.

Mr King confirmed the representatives would also brief the city council on the latest draft of the Bluff mooring plans.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt had suggested last week the city council might approach its holding company, Holdco, to fund the mooring plan.

Mr King refused to comment yesterday save to say that negotiations were continuing over the city council's "Plan B" but would not confirm with whom.

Olivia Taylor-Peebles is a journalism student at the Southern Institute of Technology.

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