Crisis talks will be held in Auckland tomorrow morning in an attempt to resolve the latest stand-off engulfing the America’s Cup.
The Herald understands Auckland mayor Phil Goff has requested an urgent meeting with key stakeholders of the regatta, including Nick Hill, chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed).
The move to scrap the inner harbour courses B and C for next year’s event will, according to TNZ, mean that the city views would be lost and that spectators would be “robbed of the best viewing experience”.
Last week TNZ said they were “outraged that after three years of planning a land-based stadium event” Luna Rossa had “wrecked” the concept. It accused the Italian challengers of conducting a “campaign through the arbitration panel” and “misleading the New Zealand public”.
But Kiwi sailing legend and four-time America’s Cup winner Brad Butterworth, who was hired by Luna Rossa last month, told NZME that the British and American teams had backed the Italian position. He said the challengers discovered they would not have access to those areas during the challengers’ Prada Cup, handing a tactical advantage to the home team defenders.
In a letter to TNZ’s Stephen Tindall and Grant Dalton, INEOS Team UK’s Ben Ainslie and Grant Simmer, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team’s Francesco Longanesi Cattani and Max Sirena, and New York Yacht Club American Magic’s Hap Fauth and Terry Hutchinson, Goff on Wednesday expressed his “intense disappointment” to see the courses removed.
“This decision has caused dismay among New Zealanders and Aucklanders who have contributed through their rates and taxes to host the event,” Goff wrote in the letter, obtained by the Herald.
“I cannot emphasise enough how much damage this may do to the support and enthusiasm for the event. Nor will the reputation of the event be helped by ‘talking through the media’.”
Goff urged the syndicates to “collectively to do whatever you can to resolve the issues which have led to this outcome”.
“As a city we have played our part to make the event a memorable and worthwhile one for you and ask that you make every effort to ensure that the public can share in the event through being able to watch it from the shore when conditions allow it to be raced on Courses B & C.”
Goff’s intervention is the latest development in a week of turmoil for TNZ. Leading Brazilian boat builder Manoel Chaves threatened legal action against the Kiwi outfit for allegedly copying his design for the foiling monohulls to be used in the regatta.
In a letter to the Herald, TNZ rejected the allegations, adding they would “strongly resist any infringement allegations [Chaves] may choose to bring”.