Hopes lifting for next America's Cup campaign

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013
Cup
GRANT DALTON: "Oracle are saying they think it will cost US$80m. Yes, you could probably do it for US$80m, but you're not going to win it. That's to compete."

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Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has returned from his America's Cup fundraising drive "cautiously optimistic" another campaign can be mounted.

Dalton has spent two weeks in Europe and the United States sounding out existing sponsors about mounting another challenge.

"The reception from the sponsors was very, very good," Dalton said. "I'm cautiously optimistic it's a doable proposition."

Dalton said a key ingredient moving forward was the protocol and format for the next regatta which is currently being thrashed out by holders Oracle and new challenger of record, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club from Australia.

"In the end it will depend on the event. Until we have an event, we have nothing to sell."

Dalton said sponsor feedback from this year's event in San Francisco where Oracle came back from 8-1 down to pip Team New Zealand 9-8 in an absorb in final was very positive. But there had been a consensus that the Louis Vuitton Cup series needed to be bolstered moving forward, with more teams crucial for competitiveness and exposure.

"They felt the America's Cup final itself rescued the event."

It had engaged a lot of people and provided exciting potential moving forward.

Dalton revealed there had been some interest from potential new sponsors though he was yet to sit across a table with them.

He maintained government investment in another challenge would be "very important" and his team were working on a business case to help secure that.

While in Europe Dalton had also investigated sponsorship for a Volvo Ocean Race campaign with the round-the-world extravaganza "very close to my heart".

He had met with race organisers and described the 2014-15 event that includes an Auckland stopover as "really, really impressive".

"Fundingwise for the Volvo, I can see 50 per cent of that at the moment, but that might as well be five per cent because having half the money doesn't do anything. That timing is rushing at me like a train," he said, believing he would need to commit to a boat in the new one-design class by January with the race starting in October.

The America's Cup decision wouldn't need to be made until much later in the year.

"I can see how the America's Cup fits together, I can't quite put the Volvo together in my head at the moment," admitted Dalton, who has been a master in the fundraising game for more than 20 years.

On the recruitment drive, Dalton said Team New Zealand had been "95 per cent successful" in retaining the key players for another America's Cup challenge.

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The only casualty had been "an important designer".

Dalton intends to return to Europe in February for the next phase of fundraising, hopeful that the cup protocol will be released by then.

- Fairfax Media

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