America's Cup: Team NZ challengers want assurances over getting into country

Author
Matt Brown, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 21 May 2020, 3:38PM
Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

America's Cup: Team NZ challengers want assurances over getting into country

Author
Matt Brown, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 21 May 2020, 3:38PM

Two of Team New Zealand's rivals have expressed a growing frustration at the lack of information from the Government on an issue which could put New Zealand's hosting of the 2021 America's Cup in jeopardy.

D-day is fast looming for America's Cup syndicates wanting to get their foreign nationals into New Zealand ahead of the 36th battle for the Auld Mug next March. For now, only New Zealand citizens and permanent residents can enter, and must undergo 14 days of quarantine on arrival.

Some America's Cup challengers claim they have had no indication from Government as to when they might be able to get their foreign nationals into the country, and there is a growing feeling that if Cup personnel cannot be on the ground by early July, the challengers will push for a delay of the America's Cup for up to a year, or even worse, lobby for the regatta to be moved offshore.

American Magic syndicate head Terry Hutchinson has praised the Government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic but believes the next few weeks are critical, telling the Herald their first boat needs to be sailing in Auckland by July.

"While we have had certain communications, some of it has been quiet — there is a big hesitancy to over-promise and under-deliver. I know I would appreciate it if we could get more [information]. We definitely need some answers."

The America's Cup match is due to start on March 6.

Hutchinson says they will need their personnel in Auckland soon, with their first boat to arrive on June 20.

American Magic would pay for the mandatory quarantine on arrival for their more than 60 foreign nationals, and any related costs, but according to Hutchinson, they would need to be given the green light by mid-June to get their people into the country.

The alternative is to delay the Cup or move it offshore.

"It's hard to even entertain the idea of going elsewhere or of postponing the event. I've had really candid communications with Grant Dalton [Team New Zealand chief executive].

"We have a very good relationship and he understands our position and the team's position.

"He also knows we do need some action."

Hutchinson's remarks have been echoed by INEOS Team UK chief executive Grant Simmer.

Speaking to veteran Australian yachting commentator Peter Shipway on his Cruising Yacht Club of Australia podcast, Simmer said he was frustrated by the lack of communication from the Government.

"They haven't told us when they are going to give us work visas and so we don't know when we can come down to New Zealand. We need to get a forward party there to set up the base and start things happening," Simmer said. "The New Zealand Government have been silent on that."

Asked earlier this month by the Herald about allowing non-New Zealand crew members to enter the country, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson was non-committal, but was hopeful the Cup will proceed as scheduled.

"It's early days and I don't have a definitive answer on that," Robertson said.

"I absolutely get the ambition, and know they'll be champing at the bit to get here.

"Getting into next year we're all going to be wanting things to look forward to; to bring the country together, to get the economy pumping."