America's Cup: PM hails 'brilliance' of victorious Team NZ, govt commits more funding
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said Team New Zealand’s 36th America’s Cup victory has “made us all proud”.
Ardern hailed the team’s performance as the government committed funding to support the team to stay together to build for its next defence.
“On behalf of all of Aotearoa I congratulate Grant Dalton, Peter Burling and the whole team, those on the water and off it, for their achievements.
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That victory took the scoreline to 7-3 in the best of 13 series and this success matched what the team achieved in 2000 when they beat Prada Challenge 5-0.
The crowd roared and claps erupted as Team New Zealand won.
Spectators could also be seen jumping up and down with glee, as others waved flags.
The Cup Village was swarming with happy fans draped in New Zealand flags and wearing Team New Zealand shirts – with a strong showing of green for St Patrick’s Day.
The main stage reached capacity before the race even started, with the bridge across the Viaduct blocked off and spectators directed around the perimeter to move between zones.
Fans clambered onto benches and platforms and stood five-deep at the water’s edge in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the return of the victorious Team New Zealand.
Even those who could not see what was happening joined in with applause and cheers as it arose from the fans with a better vantage point.
Fans also thronged the bars and restaurants along the Viaduct, with many at capacity.
“Peter Burling and his crew of skilled sailors showed what they were capable of in all conditions, highlighting the tactical brilliance and sheer hard work of everyone involved.
“Following a hard year, Team New Zealand provided such optimism and excitement. I know with all the international limitations that Covid created this wasn’t the competition they expected, but they’ve made us so proud,” Ardern said.
“Innovation, technology, guts and hard work have delivered glory for Emirates Team New Zealand,” Minister responsible for the America’s Cup Stuart Nash said.
Ardern and Nash's congratulations came as the Government announced it was committing funding to support the team to stay together to build for its next defence.
“Cabinet has agreed to invest in the team from within existing budgets. It would be subject to a number of conditions, including an expectation the Cup will be defended in New Zealand,” Nash said.
“Although no request for support has yet been made, Team New Zealand has received government assistance following every America’s Cup since 2003. I anticipate a similar request will be made this year.
“$136.5 million was set aside in Budget 2018 for Cup-related infrastructure and activities and not all of that funding has been spent. Cabinet has agreed in principle to use that under-spend, should it be required, to keep the successful team together while it plans and regroups for AC37.
“The final details are still subject to negotiations, however it is likely to be a similar sum to that paid after AC35 in Bermuda in 2017, when $5 million went towards the team to help it prepare for AC36 this year,” Nash said.
At Silo Park, fan Nicola Jones was wrapped in her New Zealand flag and said the packed park made for a “really cool atmosphere” to watch the win.
“It would have been cool if it was a closer race, but it’s still cool they won.”
She said they would be continuing the celebrations by going to find some Guinness: “It is St Patrick’s Day after all.”
Chris Peard had been watching the Cup from “all over”, chasing coverage around the village and up North Head, and caught the final race among hundreds of fans at Silo Park.
He said the country needed this win.
“We’re pretty ecstatic. That’s what living in this country’s all about, it’s really given us a lift.”
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff described Team New Zealand’s win as the “perfect way” to cap off racing in the city.
Goff said Team New Zealand’s victory in front of a home crowd was the “perfect way” to cap off three months of racing.
“Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup campaign has been thrilling to watch, with the Kiwis overcoming a strong challenge from Luna Rossa to once again bring home the Cup,” he said.
“We are proud of the team for their innovation, talent, determination and skill. They showcased Kiwi ingenuity to the world, took on the best, and came out on top once again.”