Grant Dalton on fundraising drive for Team NZ

SO CLOSE, SO FAR: Dean Barker is consoled by Team NZ boss Grant Dalton after losing the final America's Cup race to Oracle.
SO CLOSE, SO FAR: Dean Barker is consoled by Team NZ boss Grant Dalton after losing the final America's Cup race to Oracle.

There are signs of life in Team New Zealand with boss Grant Dalton heading to Europe and the United States next month on a fundraising drive for the next America's Cup campaign.

Dalton and skipper Dean Barker discussed options with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce on Friday.

With the government indicating it is prepared to get behind another tilt at the Auld Mug based on the country's enthusiasm for the just completed campaign in San Francisco that went right to the wire, Dalton is now looking at private funding options for the future.

He will mop up the paperwork from the 9-8 loss to Oracle in the most exciting final in Cup history and present that to the major sponsors. He will then gauge their appetite to be involved in another campaign.

Dalton will be able to present some juicy statistics, including an incredible 32 million unique visitors tapping into Emirates Team New Zealand's website during the last campaign and the massive global TV exposure.

There will also be the intangible element of goodwill that has swamped the team despite being on the wrong end of the greatest comeback in the sport's history.

It's that goodwill that has certainly got Dalton fired up to stay involved despite initial feelings that he mightn't have the energy for another crack.

It's still early days and his initial efforts will be to secure the team's future and then consider his own long-term role.

But he is a master at fundraising and he will be key to the team moving forward.

"I wasn't expecting the outpouring of emotional support like that. It was amazing ... amazing," Dalton said of his team's homecoming that included last week's emotional tribute on the Auckland waterfront.

"And it hasn't stopped. I go anywhere ... for coffee, to the gym ... and it's there.

"I've said to the guys, the team needs to be secured because there is such an amazing support for it to continue. It's only responsible that I look at getting that security."

The initial security could come by way of government money. Joyce admitted some form of bridging agreement may be the next step, rather than an immediate, full-blown commitment for the government to fund another campaign.

"That's a possibility, particularly with the issue of retaining members of the team," Joyce confirmed to Fairfax Media yesterday.

"I met with Grant and Dean and it was really just to scope the various things we need to talk about.

"It's about what is potentially likely, bearing in mind we don't know where the next America's Cup is going to be. We didn't resolve anything."

Dalton believed that by Christmas he would have a feeling if another campaign could be launched.

He would be on the road from mid-November till mid-December engaging sponsors and supporters that have been involved through the 2007 and 2013 campaigns that went right to the wire.

Team New Zealand have Emirates, Nespresso, Omega, Camper, Toyota and the government as their main sponsors. There are five "exclusive suppliers", 95 "official suppliers" and 13 "contributors".

"The meetings will be goodwill meetings, I want to take them all the statistics. Then as part of that discussion as the landscape becomes clear, you can start the discussions of the future.

"From that, the team will have a much better idea of where it stands."

Dalton said the design team and some sailors were being wooed by rival teams.

"All of the main guys have been approached - multiple times. Without the people, you can't do anything and that has to be our priority."

The design team are the most vulnerable with the next America's Cup sure to feature large catamarans again.

"We and Oracle assembled the supercharged multihull design teams. Others don't exist. We are just a sitting duck. It's not like there are other teams they can go to, to nick people."

Dalton said he was only just starting to get into normal sleeping patterns as he fought off the disappointment of losing to Oracle.

"It's taken its toll but the energy is certainly starting to flow back into my body, that's for sure.

"I don't know how much lower you can go with your emotional state before you shut down.

"But it doesn't come back overnight. I know that talking to all the guys now ... the fire still burns pretty bright."

Sunday News