Just saying

One of the great mind-benders of our time is the pizza industry. I run it over and over again in my mind. It’s insane. A round meal delivered in a square box and served in triangles. Think about that. And in that spirit and backdrop, it’s a good place to start thinking about the America’s Cup which is getting weirder by the minute.

You go to sleep at night safe in the knowledge of what you think you know and then find out by morning that what you knew just ain’t so – everything changes. There’s a Mark Twain quote in there somewhere…

So this morning over Rice Krispies I scrolled to find that the Kiwi Home Defence Syndicate, remember them (?), are back in the media with a NZD$40m war-chest delivered from the lofty echelons of the moral high ground (a curious place to inhabit) – to my UK readers that amounts to £20.796m and to my new US readers that have flooded in on the back of the New York Yacht Club posts recently (welcome y’all) that’s $28.709m.

Not to be sniffed at. Big money by anyone’s reckoning. Cold hard folding stuff. And delivered as a “firm commitment” with “$20m from the personal private interests of Mark Dunphy and his associates…and a further $20m of funding proposed today which is being fully underwritten by Kiwi Home Defence on account of prospective donors.”

In any other civilised sport or civil society, this kind of offer would be greeted with awe and gratitude. In the America’s Cup it’s deemed almost an insult. To Team New Zealand it’s yet another annoying mosquito in the office this morning.

The game has got so crazy in this cycle, and the Kiwi Home Defence would be wise to recognise it, that NZD$40m doesn’t even touch the sides and is many gazillions short of what ETNZ will be looking for to fight off the open chequebooks of Ratcliffe, Bertelli and Bertarelli and their new-found F1 friends fighting off the budgetary cap, to mount a credible defence not to mention the renewed vigour and determination of the American Magic billionaires who, I am delighted to hear, are going again.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

In the Kiwi media overnight, the offer has been rejected out of hand. Grant Dalton is quite simply not entertaining the Kiwi Home Defence team and all trust is lost between the two entities. In a coarse statement to the New Zealand Herald, a ‘spokesperson’ (guess who?) for ETNZ said: “Just to repeat our position from our statement of 22nd September: ‘Emirates Team New Zealand and RNZYS have decided to cease all correspondence and any dealings with Mr Dunphy based on clear evidence of his and his associate Dr. Hamish Ross’s conflicted actions that they have refused to come clean on’.

Case closed it would seem. But to hurry the final nail into the coffin of the proposal, an early venue announcement, or earlier than some suspect, would surely please be the killer blow. My suspicion based on conversations with a cool-as-a-cucumber ETNZ and the RNZYS is that they already know the venue and are knee-deep in Hosting Arrangement legalese.

They certainly won’t say as much publicly but it’s a done deal and it’s window-dressing that’s holding up the announcement. I even read a compelling piece last night, forwarded by a reader, that one of the issues holding up the Protocol at the moment is the inclusion of ‘cyclors’ back in the next Cup – remember them (?)…I can’t believe that’s right and don’t dare email Grant Dalton to ask. Great if true. I’ll wait for the announcement.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

Meanwhile, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has been on full transmit to its members with not only a statement from Commodore Aaron Young, who is doing a terrific job in the circumstances, but also a fascinating whack-a-mole Question & Answer session which certainly sets out the club’s stall as a rather grateful club that has delegated the actual running of the Cup to ETNZ whilst being clear on its fiduciary requirements and expectations.

The Club is cleverly distancing itself from financial involvement and funding arrangements as is the modern set-up between AC teams and clubs and they answer a lot of questions and ‘what ifs’ – you can read the statement HERE and the Q&A HERE – they are well worth a read and you’ll get a far clearer picture of things.

What I gleaned was confirmation that the Squadron will be receiving a payment to fund youth sailing and development programmes from the Team NZ Trust if the event goes overseas – quite right too. And that the Club is 100% unwaveringly behind ETNZ – again great to see. Furthermore, the relationship between the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, Ineos Britannia as Challenger of Record and the RNZYS is rock solid – that’s a relief as bullets will start flying, trust me. And finally, that the Cup is almost certainly going overseas and if you don’t like it, well you are entitled to your opinion as a club member. Kapow.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

The Club is however pretty dark and matter-of-fact on the question of disciplinary action to those that may be deemed in some eyes to have acted against the interests of the club – so are Mark Dunphy and Hamish Ross in the firing line? Seems a bit heavy-handed and clumsy to me.

Experience suggests that when it comes to what would amount to a protest hearing, and we’ve all been in those, there will be two sides of a story and what we think we know today will be vastly different when put under the spotlight of a wise-head jury decision. I don’t expect to see membership cards being handed over or demanded when it’s all said and done. And I hope that’s not the case – it’s only a sporting contest after all.

So again, we await with bated breath for the venue announcement to unleash the torrent of announcements that are stacking up behind the scenes. The Cup world are on endless Zoom calls at the moment hammering through the detail and media noise around the edges is mildly irritating to the players – sorry but it’s of your own making.

Perhaps future holders and interested parties should make a mental note that eight month waits for Protocol announcements and missed venue unveils are a killer to momentum in the America’s Cup. Mildly intriguing for the committed but utterly nuts to the rest of the world.

Just saying.

14 thoughts on “Just saying

  1. As always, this only ‘matters’ if we are inclined to take it seriously. But, as you rightly point out, it’s just a sporting contest. People are free to walk away, earn their livings elsewhere, and spend their filthy lucre as they wish.

    With the world on fire it’s nice to have a distraction that truly doesn’t matter, but does provide endless entertainment watching people with lots of money trying to run rings around each other whilst unloading large quantities of cash they have no realistic need for into the eager hands of those who do have a need for it (relatively speaking at least).

    So far as I am concerned if they want to sail the AC on giant foiling kiteboards, or DIY contraptions built the week before out of a designated pile of plywood, good on them. Go for it I say. And pass the popcorn, please.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Someday that Auckland graphic is going to actually mean it and eight months of tension will lift off my shoulders.

    I would probably feel just as relieved asI did yesterday when I finally learned that my “seasonal” government job I expected to end at the end of this month will actually be until next July.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And basically the entire time I’ve been here (since late June), I’ve been angsting over this, which certainly puts that in perspective.

        If he’d just ended AC 36 by shaking hands with the LR guy, saying “Good game, see you back here in three years!”, and passing over an envelope that said the same, I’d have been spared so much stress.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting read…
    However I disagree on that “Disciplinary Topic”: In any other Team Sport whether it is Soccer, Basketball, etc. if you publicly criticize your Head Coach (in this case the Commodore of the Yacht Club) or undermine/sabotage the Team Efforts to stage an Event you would be fired.

    I stand by it what I said after that ETNZ Press Release came out on Sept. 22 revealing the “Damning Details” of the Dunphy Bid that Mark Dunphy & Hamish Ross should immediatedly be forced to rescind their Membership to the RNZYS. Any time you have some sort of Rogue Member in any Team you cut him off.


    1. I think yacht clubs are broad churches of people with a common interest and personally I don’t think what’s been reported and capitalised on in the febrile environment of the America’s Cup, where tensions and egos run high, merits club members being ejected. I’m sure sense will prevail – I hope so – and that everything is seen factually in the cold light of reason.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Right now though Magnus this is all about distracting, delaying ETNZ’s Efforts to secure a Host Venue Agreement and that’s very unfortunate. At the end of the Day, probably in about a months time, Dunphy & Ross will realize that they have lost.

        The Stakes of AC37 have been raised massivly with the INEOS Britannia/Mercedes GP Partnership. Ratcliffe will probably throw in another sum north of $US 100M, couple that with Bertarelli, Bertelli and DeVos/Fauth throwing in similar funds it would be a full blown disaster for TNZ if they are forced to defend AC37 on Home Soil underfunded.

        It doesn’t look like the AC37 Protocol will have budgetary caps like the F1 will have from 2022 onwards.


  4. Thanks for putting all that together Magnus, it really is good to keep up through your blog!

    As a hospital doc, actively affected by all that is going on, a “covid survivor”, & now fully vaccinated, I do not think enough comment has been made regarding the massive impact that COVID 19 has had on the AC.

    No doubting, without it, AC36 would have been a massive financial success for Auckland & NZ, & a no brainer to support (ie government/council) AC37.
    Covid changed all that.

    As a “betting” man, who in the World (apart from Gulf states) would put money on an event that might be kaiboshed by the pandemic’s 5th, 6th or whatever wave?

    The biggest farce of all time, of course, is uber rich individuals rocketing into space in some sort of obscene race, whilst most of the World has no access to vaccines!

    In closing, Covid has really f***ed it all up, & without it, there is absolutely no doubt at all that we’d be on track to AC37 in Auckland, with multi team entries, and the esteemed NYC still involved!

    It is best we acknowledge this massive impact across all sport, & that caused cancellation of the Melbourne F1 GP circus, last year, just days before it was due to start.

    Thanks again Magnus for keeping us all up to date on the shenanigans of the AC!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucky RNZYS has members who don’t kowtow to non-members with other agendas. The NYYC would never have held the cup for 132 years without some sort of resolve and backbone.

    Liked by 1 person

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