It’s going down fast and those in steerage are being cut adrift and left to fend for themselves on the high seas of America’s Cup politics. It’s a different story for those up in first class though who got off just before the storm broke and are safely barricaded back home, refusing to take calls and are denying ever being on the ship in the first place. The iceberg that is Team New Zealand however, knows the story and has questions to ask the unfortunate souls in the liferaft.
Problems keep on surfacing for the Kiwi Home Defence project. Problems that are largely of their own making. What started out as a great idea and something that the fabulous Kiwi public could get behind has crumbled in the public eye.
The project however issued a statement to the media which on the face of it looked to quell and denounce all that has been said before. The killer line being: “The Kiwi Home Defence team and Mark Dunphy are not working with, or on behalf of, any offshore interests. The Squadron and Team New Zealand are aware of this. Any assertion to the contrary is completely untrue.“
Okay great. We will take this as stated on face value. Let’s get this on then. All the assertions to the contrary were wrong. The rumours were nonsense. Those telling them will be held to account. Thank goodness for that. The New Zealand public can get back on the Kiwi Home Defence project and support it to the hilt. We are off to the races again.
But not so fast.
The ping pong ratcheted up and the top spin was countered by Team New Zealand with a smash. Detailed questions have been issued and made public with a whole load more detail that, if true, scuttles the Kiwi Home Defence beneath the waterline.
Here’s what is being said and it opens with: “Emirates Team New Zealand has been directly briefed on a significant conversation that Mr Dunphy has had that gave rise to these specific questions. The questions that ultimately Mr Dunphy needs to answer directly for the public are:
Did you have a call with a member of the NYYC who is directly involved with the America’s Cup where you asked for their support to file an action in the New York Supreme Court to challenge the validity of the Royal Yacht Squadron as Challenger of Record?
Did you advise the NYYC member that you have the financial support of Ernesto Bertarelli and have also been communicating with Larry Ellison?
Have you had any meetings with any persons who represent or could be deemed to represent a rival team intending to enter AC37?
Was Hamish Ross representing you when he lobbied the NYYC via email to instigate an action in the New York Supreme Court?
Players have been playing and are running for cover now. The New York Yacht Club are reported to have turned down the offer to instigate legal action. And rightly so. The two clubs are more than friendly. Meanwhile, no response from Ernesto or Larry – and I wouldn’t expect them to. They are too cool for school.
But the magic inner circle that were pulling the strings have seen the catastrophic PR disaster unfolding in front of them and have gone home to lick their wounds. To think again. This hasn’t worked out as planned. They’ve been mugged down the darkest alley of America’s Cup politics by the shrewdest operator ever to play the game. Dalton knows more than they could possibly have imagined. Ouch.
And to my eye, the smoking gun in all of this is the saga of where Pete Burling and Blair Tuke are. Have they signed for Team New Zealand or not? The answer reveals everything regarding foreign interest and I’ll lay a wager that those contract negotiations are stalled right now. Phones aren’t being answered. Emails are unread.
Whatever game plan was going on behind the scenes to raid Team New Zealand at a time of perceived weakness amid global economic and pandemic woes has been called out. History has been learned and will not be repeated. Or will it? Billionaires are different to you and I.
Meanwhile the persistent rumour of the Cup somehow finding its way to the Solent on a Deed of Gift Match has been categorically, and I mean ‘categorically’, put to bed as I asked the direct question to the Defender. It is not happening. No chance. Zero. What is happening is that Cork is being given the once over face-to-face with high-level meetings underway to see if it can work in any reasonable timescale. Those meetings are happening today. The same will happen with the Middle East venue and Spain in the coming days.
New Zealand is becoming a distant dream and the attitude towards the Kiwi Home Defence project is unequivocal as Team New Zealand finish their direct questioning with the line: “It is clear that there is zero trust with Mr Dunphy and that is a direct result of his and his associates actions.“
Try explaining all this to a teenager. Even the dog is bored of me now.