Team New Zealand sail on with bridging funding
Team New Zealand are confident they can hold on to their key design and sailing staff now they have secured bridging funding from the government while they try to secure private sponsorship for another America's Cup bid.
Economic Development Minister Steve Joyce yesterday announced an interim investment of $5 million in the syndicate.
Joyce said the just completed regatta in San Francisco had showcased the talent and innovation that New Zealand holds within its marine and technology sectors.
There was a desire to ensure key team members were secured until May 2014, by which time Team New Zealand planned to finalise a decision on its involvement in the next regatta.
Team New Zealand chief operations officer Kevin Shoebridge said the level of support shown to the team since their return after being defeated by Oracle in a pulsating final had been "a huge surprise".
Yesterday's funding development was a relief and "allows us to go ahead with our plans".
"We haven't lost anyone yet but key people have been receiving offers from rivals since the day after the final finished ... there's just not very much experience out there in this class of boa.," Shoebridge said.
He believed the bridging funding would enable them to secure both the New Zealand and international talent in the team.
"We have been constantly talking to everyone. They are keen and the team feels it still has a lot to offer."
Shoebridge said the team would now "try and get the wheels rolling".
He would spend the next month tying up the key members, while chief executive Grant Dalton toured Europe and the United States putting out the feelers with sponsors.
The team continues to be based at Auckland's Viaduct Basin, though that is "a month at a time situation". The area is to be eventually redeveloped as a hotel.
Team New Zealand's base in San Francisco has been wound up and 65 containers are heading to Auckland.
Central to Team New Zealand's future will be the protocol for the next cup which is being drawn up between Oracle and the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the official Challenger of Record from Australia.
Shoebridge said they hope to have those early in the new year. Their expectation was that the regatta would continue to use multihulls and it would be hard to move from San Francisco after the success of the final there, especially with the sailing conditions. The pledges to carry out cost-cutting would be crucial to attracting more teams.
He was pleased to see Australia return for the first time since 2000 and "we expect to see a few other familiar faces as well".
The government investment in the last campaign polarised the country, particularly in the leadup to the regatta.
Joyce yesterday said the government believed that investment had been worthwhile.
"There is no doubt the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco was hugely beneficial to New Zealand businesses, including our food and wine, ICT, tourism and marine industries who all leveraged successfully off the event. A thorough evaluation of the benefits to the New Zealand economy of the government's $36 million investment in the 2013 America's Cup is under way and is expected in March 2014."