Team New Zealand want to return America's Cup to free-to-air television

Skipper Glenn Ashby, team principal Matteo de Nora, helmsman Peter Burling and CEO Grant Dalton celebrate Emirates Team ...
GILLES MARTIN-RAGET/ACEA 2017

Skipper Glenn Ashby, team principal Matteo de Nora, helmsman Peter Burling and CEO Grant Dalton celebrate Emirates Team New Zealand's America's Cup success in Bermuda.

Team New Zealand will move to have the America's Cup return to free-to-air television.

Emirates Team New Zealand principal Matteo de Nora gave a strong indication of that in a wide-ranging interview with Italian paper La Stampa where he expressed confidence Auckland could attract better audiences than Bermuda and that other buildup regattas would be held around the world.

He also emphasised increased nationality around teams and had a dig at Oracle's governance of the event that saw the Kiwis at odds on several fronts, operating as a "lone wolf" outside the other five syndicates.

Yachting fans celebrate the America's Cup win at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington.
MAARTEN HOLL/ FAIRFAX NZ

Yachting fans celebrate the America's Cup win at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington.

Team New Zealand's stunning dominance in Bermuda earned them a 7-1 victory over Oracle Team USA to win back the Auld Mug and with it all the power.

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"There is not one formula only, but many ones that can work. The most important thing is that when you find the formula you fix the rules and there also has to be a certain transparency," de Nora told La Stampa.

He said there was a need for more fans to be given access to the event and that in turn would lead to greater commercial opportunities.

For the first time in New Zealand's long and proud history in the Cup, this year's live TV coverage was shown exclusively on Sky TV who pushed a delayed version out to the wider audience via Prime TV once Team New Zealand made the final. This caused considerable angst among fans.

"The main goal is to have more audience, even among the ones that don't follow this sport. Besides the boat, there has to be a return to nationality. The America's Cup has to be a challenge between nations. And we need to also think about the TV," de Nora said.

"Private networks, pay-TV, buy the rights and offer the America's Cup in a non-clear way. The America's Cup organisation can gain more money but at the end there is a more limited audience. This will reduce the sponsors' interest."

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Sir Russell Coutts, the Oracle boss and America's Cup Event Authority chief for the last regattas, expressed doubts earlier this month that Auckland would work commercially as a one-off venue.

Auckland hosted the 2000 and 2003 America's Cup regattas with large fleets and to wide acclaim.

"The America's Cup was already played in Auckland and the audience was higher than what we have seen in Bermuda, where the hotels are half empty," de Nora told La Stampa.

He confirmed the 36th edition of the Cup would be in Auckland. But they would consider having leadup events "hosted by those countries that participate in the Cup".

De Nora, a key benefactor to the New Zealand syndicate, said he would continue in that role and looked forward to helping syndicate boss Grant Dalton set up the next event.

Italian syndicate Luna Rossa has already been named as the challenger of record and will work out the framework for the next Cup with Team New Zealand.

When asked what boats needed to be used to be successful, he dryly replied that the Cup would hold interest even if it was raced in "steam boats".

He believed the current technology race had become so far advanced that organisers had to be careful not to scare off new syndicates as they look to increase the small numbers in San Francisco and Bermuda.

"If catamarans remain, we should ask this question: Why a new team would join the Cup with rivals that are already five years ahead in the boat development?"

It was then suggested that was the right of the holders - that they didn't necessarily have to care about the challengers.

"Americans would probably act like that. We will do the right thing for the America's Cup," he finished.

 - Stuff

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