America's Cup pow-wow proves to be 'positive'

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 06:53 30/07/2014
Russell Coutts
Reuters
ORACLE BOSS: Sir Russell Coutts.

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America's Cup syndicates have pledged to do more talking in the leadup to the next regatta and those ongoing discussions are likely to include Team New Zealand.

The Kiwis weren't invited to a round-table discussion in London hosted by defenders Oracle yesterday that included potential challengers from Britain, Italy, Sweden and France.

But if Team New Zealand followed through with their commitment to the Cup and lodged an entry when the August 8 deadline arrived, they would be part of the process moving forward.

Oracle described yesterday's meeting as "positive" and released what they described as the key points to unfold.

- Regular meetings encompassing all teams in order to work collectively to maximise the potential of both this America's Cup and future editions.

- Each team plan to host an America's Cup World Series event (sailed in the smaller 45-foot catamarans) in either their own country, or a country of their choice.

- All the teams present agreed that they would commit - if they were to win the Cup in 2017 - to continue with the America's Cup World Series.

- A commitment to further reduce the costs for both this Cup and future editions.

- Support for the choice of host venue, be it Bermuda or San Diego.

- A working group to agree on the date and event structure of the 36th America's Cup, to lay the foundations for a sustainable event.

The first point suggested an inclusive approach that should encompass an official Kiwi entry.

The London pow-wow was a step forward for Oracle who suffered the embarrassment of losing their challenger of record Team Australia in the wake of a difficult meeting in Los Angeles a fortnight ago.

There was still no announcement of a new challenger of record, expected to be Italy's Luna Rossa, just the suggestion of a united front by the teams, which suggested there may be no need to overhaul the controversial new protocols that the Australians worked through with Oracle.

France's position would be interesting as the next week unfolded and the pressure of an official entry arrived, complete with a US$1 million (NZ$1.17m) fee.

Team New Zealand, an America's Cup regular since 1987 and the most consistent challenger over that period, which included twice winning sport's oldest trophy, weren't too miffed to sit out yesterday's meeting at the suggestion of Oracle boss Sir Russell Coutts who was understood to have told them on a phone call that ''it's best that they not come''.

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In an event where so much politics plays out off the water, some big moves lay ahead, though most would be at the insistence, as always, of the cup holders.

- Stuff

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