Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton has described his syndicate as “a lone wolf” and expressed fears operating against their five America’s Cup rivals.
Team New Zealand, upset at having the qualifying regatta hosting rights stripped off them by Cup bosses that ultimately cost them New Zealand government funding, have persistently kept outside the tight circle of their rivals who have rewritten the rules book to allow changes by majority consent.
That is believed to include arbitration against the Cup bosses over the loss of the leadup regatta in Auckland. There has been speculation the Kiwis have won major monetary compensation though the strict new rules prevent anyone from discussing the matter publicly.
“We are very much the lone wolf,” Dalton told the New York Times as the buildup to America’s Cup racing in Bermuda in May intensifies.
“The danger of being a lone wolf, of course, is that there’s a lot of people, not just Oracle, that don’t want us to win this time.
“One would hope we don’t get sent to the bottom of the ocean by a boat — ‘Oh, that was a mistake; sorry about that’ — one day with no form of redress in the rule. And that’s a very big concern for us. There are five teams that want us dead now, not one, only because we’ve ruined their little parade.”
Team New Zealand’s five rivals recently agreed to a long-term vision for the Cup, with racing in the current 50-foot foiling catamarans to be continued for the 2019 and 2021 editions.
The Kiwis, it is understood, prefer a return to the old rules where the defender and challenger of record sort out the direction of the next regatta.
“Our initial reaction was that while we are in arbitration, we weren’t interested in playing the happy families game. I think now that their document is finished, we fundamentally don’t agree with it,” Dalton told the New York Times.
That is adding to their motivation for Bermuda.
Some rules experts believe the new changes wouldn’t stand a test in court, an area where so many Cup battles are fought, because it is so far removed from the Cup’s original deed of gift.
“The extra kind of added incentive now is that if we don’t win, the Cup is doomed in the New York Yacht Club kind of terms, which we believe in. It’s doomed to be just another dirty little regatta,” Dalton said.
Any monetary compensation over the Auckland fiasco may come too late to be of benefit to Team New Zealand who have launched their radical new boat and managed to get by on a reduced campaign.
Dalton admitted the loss of the government funding had hurt, but he is happy with the fighting spirit of the syndicate who will test their new boat in New Zealand before joining their rivals late in the Cup rehearsals in bermuda.
“Everybody is on reduced salaries; nobody earns what they earned last time, if they are even here from last time,” Dalton said.
“We’ve really struggled financially to survive. Bermuda, with all the best intentions of a venue, is a difficult place to sell sponsorship.”
Team New Zealand’s position was weakened when their long-standing challenger allies, Italy’s Luna Rossa, withdrew early in this Cup cycle because of frustrations at the rule changes, particularly the delayed decision to reduce the size of the boats from 62 feet to 50 feet when they had been progressing along the previously agreed dimensions.
The cosy new arrangements now include defender Oracle Team USA sailing in the first phase of the challenger series. Oracle have also had a design-sharing agreement with late challengers Team Japan, who have former Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker as their CEO and skipper.