A2B soaks up $15,000 for Sydney visit

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2013

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The Invercargill City Council will pay for Auckland-to-Bluff Yacht Race organisers to fly to Sydney.

The council approved $15,000 in principle toward the race several months ago, but has confirmed that the money would now be going toward paying for race organisers SMC Events to visit Australia and scope out potential competitors.

The cash injection is on top of the $100,000 the council had already granted to the troubled event.

The race was originally scheduled for February but was postponed for lack of entries.

Events committee chairman Peter Kett said it was decided at the committee meeting, from which the public was excluded, that the council would approve the funds and give them to the organisers to use.

Originally a delegation was to be sent to Hobart, but now just the organisers would be going to Sydney for the start of the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race instead, he said.

Cr Kett was the only events committee member to vote against the funding.

SMC Events director David Mee and race promoter Murray Francis did not answer questions when called yesterday and did not return messages later in the day.

Council chief executive Richard King said the funding had always been aimed at promoting the race and sending the organisers was exactly that. "They've employed a co-ordinator to promote the event in both New Zealand and Australia, so at this stage I understand that SMC Events will go to Australia but I am not sure when that's going to happen."

Mr King said the trip was planned but nothing had been confirmed.

While the council continues to pump money into the race, the Government is yet to receive another application for funding.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment senior communications adviser Britton Broun said a race date could not be set until the organisers provide a detailed update to the ministry.

They would also have to face a Major Events Investment Panel and the Major Events Ministers Group, to receive the funding. To date the Government had given $100,000 to the race, he said.

But deputy mayor and events committee member Darren Ludlow said it was a case of "do or die".

"I voted for it [$15,000 funding]. We want to make sure that if we are going to walk away from it, we want to make sure we've done the best possible".

 

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