“The most important thing in life is to stop saying: I wish; and start saying: I will” and although that’s a paraphrase of a Charles Dickens quotation, it’s very much the mood in New Zealand at the moment around the America’s Cup. Good on them.

Strides are being taken forward in the campaign to make sure the 37th edition is in Auckland and although the local media seem a little battle-worn (i’m being generous) and are still calling it as an outside chance, to the rest of the world it’s game-on for Auckland to be anointed. The deal has to be done. Plain and simple. The intentionally divisive narrative around Mark Dunphy needs to change and his bravery in tabling the bid and corralling backers, needs to be applauded. Team New Zealand must get onboard quickly. This is a saviour moment.

The foreign bids, let’s be honest here, are a pack of cards teetering on the brink. They are Sirens calling the Cup on to the rocks. Every way you look at them, there’s 99 problems and the simple fact is that New Zealand magnificently won the Cup in March with fabulous, bought-in home support amidst gloomy global times and the public deserve to have the next defence in home waters.

For once, things need to be taken on face value. The fact of the matter is that Mark Dunphy is trying, and trying really hard, to secure this. I massively admire his guts, chutzpah and guile to stand in the gale of opposition and face down the naysayers. The world is crawling over his business affairs desperate to paint a black picture but hold on, he’s got something going here, caught the imagination and is dealing in the art of the impossible. For that, he deserves support and as an outsider, I’m hoping he pulls it off – it’s only money after all.

And if he does, I tell you, the world will come. Auckland will be post-pandemic open-for-business and we are staring at the most successful, glamorous, inclusive, positive America’s Cup in history. The AC40’s will be a game-changer. The AC75’s will be second generation dynamite. The racing will be tighter. The pros will be better. As a sporting contest it’s tantalising – as exciting as a 1990’s heavyweight boxing contest, closer than a Rugby World Cup and more intriguing than a FIFA World Cup, it might even eclipse Formula 1 in its prime. I’ll call 2024 as being better than 1987. That’s the prize – it has to be worth fighting for?

The Kiwi government needs now to stop being supine and get behind not only the Kiwi Home Defence project but also the home team. Team New Zealand need to climb down on the narrative (note the side-swipe in yesterday’s release) and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron need to not only act highly professionally, as I would expect of them, but switch to being immensely supportive and collaborative.

This is the only show in town now. Politely thank the Origin Sports Group for their work and their recommendations and for proving that the Cup has global interest and concentrate on getting Auckland over the line. Don’t let this descend into a mud-slinging, ping-pong battle of words, get an agreement to work together in place and get the job done. It’s the Kiwi way.

And here’s the latest piece of positivity from the Kiwi Home Defence project, an open letter from Mark Dunphy that I read as being progressive, inspiring and full of hope for the future. No doubt others will view it differently but I’m getting the impression that Mark Dunphy is the real deal and is going to pull this off. I sincerely hope so.

Celebration of the 37th America’s Cup in Tāmaki Makaurau Open Letter to Aotearoa New Zealand – 17 September 2021

We are very pleased to hear today’s news that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Team New Zealand team are taking more time to resolve the location of the America’s Cup Match in 2024 and that they are now seriously considering celebration of the 37th America’s Cup at home in Tāmaki Makaurau.

We feel very strongly that the defence of the America’s Cup should be held at home. There has always been the support and funding here for this. We are passionate supporters of our great sailing team.

We have written to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Team New Zealand offering to assist with funding for the ‘at home’ defence of the America’s Cup. We have offered to meet with the Squadron and Team NZ at any time.

We look forward to working with the Government, the Auckland Council, the Squadron and Team NZ to ensure the home defence. We have offered to join the Government in providing short-term funding support for the team whilst the longer-term funding and supporting arrangements are finalized with private supporters, the Government, the Auckland Council, the Squadron and the team.

I know that kiwis want the remaining issues to be put to bed so that Auckland can be confirmed. Our wonderful group of designers, boat builders, sailors and shore crew and their families will want to know where they are headed. An early home announcement will greatly please all of the challenging teams who are understood to want to return to Auckland to celebrate this 37th Match for the Cup.

Our 2024 America’s Cup defence will provide a magnificent opportunity to demonstrate New Zealand is back and open for business as the Covid pandemic recedes. It can be a “coming out” celebration for all of NZ and for Auckland, our largest city. It will maximize the fantastic legacy asset the Auckland Council has created for us. My colleagues and I have our sleeves rolled up ready to work constructively with everyone to deliver this hugely important result for the crew of five million.

Kind regards, Mark Dunphy

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