Team New Zealand staring at a watery grave

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE AND SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 08/06/2014
Grant Dalton
Getty Images
GRANT DALTON: "We are still assessing the protocol page by page, because you have to look at the rules and ask why does it say that, what's the end game?"

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Team New Zealand sailing boss Grant Dalton says a new America's Cup rule could prevent our best sailors competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Dalton, having waded through the fine print of an extremely complicated new set of America's Cup rules, says one rule is that cup-holder Oracle can determine what regattas all sailors can compete in, including the Olympics.

"We are still assessing the protocol page by page, because you have to look at the rules and ask why does it say that, what's the end game?

"Follow that through to its conclusion ... when Peter Burling and Blair Tuke sail in an AC45 for Team New Zealand next year, those guys would need [Russell] Coutts' permission to go to the Olympics. It's nonsensical."

Dalton says Oracle's 78-page protocol document for the 2017 cup shows Coutts, as Oracle's chief executive, is trying to control world yachting.

"Very much this is Coutts' protocol, he is trying to dominate or control the yachtsmen in the sport and I see that as a fairly important precedent," Dalton said "[But] He won't destroy Team New Zealand."

The first deadline on a multi-million dollar entry fee for the 2017 America's Cup is just over four weeks away and Dalton is worried he has only a partially unveiled event concept to sell sponsorships around. He admits it will be difficult for Team NZ to stay afloat and believes the syndicate is at risk of implosion due to the calculated work of Coutts.

Dalton's woes are made worse by the fact the government has told him he's on his own for the time being. With a government three months out from a general election he's been told he cannot rely on another taxpayer handout - and that it's he himself who is responsible for securing the team's immediate financial future.

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