Hope

Good news filters back from Auckland. In a thumping statement to the membership of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the sporting team laid themselves bare before the court of public opinion in one of the all-time classic communiqués of Cup lore. It’s a belter. It’s a powerful statement of intent, ugly in parts, combative in others, soothing in parts but direct and to the point. It’s knocking down the preconceptions. Challenging the misconceptions and putting everything on the line. Plenty to pick through, it’s a hill of beans that needs to be said, can we move on now?


©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

Well not quite so fast. Let’s look at some of the more racy parts, none more so than this below – and I apologise for the length but it’s pretty important stuff in the whole story of the possible Auckland defence. This from Team New Zealand and published in full on their website (HERE):

Much has been played out in the media in an orchestrated PR campaign by Mark Dunphy. Despite hopeful beginnings, on discovering Mr Dunphy’s sinister activities and clues to his true agenda ETNZ cut off all engagement with him. As a result we have had no intention of being drawn into a meaningless and ugly media argument with him. But we feel that you as members of the RNZYS deserve to hear directly from us so you have clarity around some of the deliberate misstatements of facts and the activities that pose a significant risk to ETNZ and to the reputation and standing of the Squadron.

You will all know about the former merchant banker’s so called “patriotic gesture” to assist with funding a defence here in NZ.  As stated many times that it has always been our desire to host the next America’s Cup here in Auckland if the funding and the terms of that funding can be secured. It has not been possible and increasingly unlikely to be. Despite him, and other parties continuing to repeat that “the funds for a local defence are now available.”- They are not- they are $50m short. And that is assuming government would recommit their offer which is based on an unlikely joint approach.


©Stuff / www.stuff.co.nz

Not a small sum that can hopefully appear at some stage. Despite this large difference in budget which seems to be ignored, Mr Dunphy has been privy to the required budget information for AC37 on multiple occasions in correspondence:

  • In early June  Mr Dunphy made two calls to an ACE director as well as RNZYS representatives offering to provide some considerable funding for the next America’s Cup event and asking for cost information which was duly given. 
  • A meeting then took place between the two where those costs were reiterated and clearly explained. 
  • Grant Dalton sent Mr Dunphy a letter on the 15th July describing the full background and requirements to funding the team and event (again) openly and positively in the hope of keeping the event in New Zealand. (This and a subsequent letter to Mr Dunphy went unanswered)
  • A phone call between Mr Dunphy and Grant Dalton where the general offer of funds was mooted and required costs discussed again in some detail. (The suggestion of a meeting in Queenstown was proposed to Grant which he agreed would be sensible and who waited for the details of time and place which again never came.) 
  • Another letter to Mr Dunphy on 12th August, again breaking down numbers and outlining requirements.
  • Subsequent to other letters inviting an offer, a 15th September letter to Mr Dunphy seeking clarification and explanation of his confused numbers in a long awaited letter (sent by him on 14th Sept) in which Grant Dalton again clarified the required budget. 

The fact that he continues to say the funds are available is all the more perplexing given he has had the ‘real’ number required for AC37 on many occasions- yet the $50m deficit remains. Mr Dunphy’s latest misrepresentation of the costs is either a PR tactic that have the effect of discrediting the team or he thinks AC37 doesn’t require international TV broadcast or the team won’t need some key design work, staff, sailors, boats or components to defend the America’s Cup.


©America’s Cup Media

In all of this correspondence, as well as meetings with RNZYS representatives Mr Dunphy was repeatedly urged to urgently meet with Grant Dalton as the only next step to progress this generous and exciting offer, as indeed it seemed at the time. No such acceptance of the offer to meet was received despite the issue requiring urgency as stated by Mr Dunphy.

What followed next was two months of waiting to hear from Mr Dunphy before his PR campaign played out in the media where he called for the removal of Grant Dalton as the condition of funding. This provoking an outcry from ETNZ team members and many others. Mr Dunphy then retracted his call for the removal of Grant Dalton as CEO as a condition of his funding.

Meanwhile an email emerged from Dr Hamish Ross, with Mr Dunphy in copy to try to provoke legal action by encouraging the NYYC to take legal action against the Challenger of Record in the New York Supreme Court.


©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

The full realisation of such an underhand approach emerged when we were informed of a conversation with the NYYC, initiated by one of Dunphy’s cohort. On this call a proposal was again put to challenge the validity of the RYS as Challenger of Record (COR) and to replace NYYC as the new COR. Among other defamatory claims about ETNZ and Grant Dalton by Mr Dunphy, he made it clear that he wanted to see ETNZ and Grant Dalton gone and this litigation was part of his strategy to achieve a vision of a new privately and Govt funded event in NZ with the NYYC as Challenger of Record.

Mr Dunphy initially denied the call then remembered he had one, but claimed the reason for the call was to check on NYYC’s interest in Auckland as next venue. All of the above has not stopped Mr Dunphy threatening legal action against ETNZ, the RNZYS and Grant Dalton in the past few weeks. Clearly this is an unnecessary cost and distraction for ETNZ but we certainly welcome the opportunity to detail this conversation and the parties to it can be known by all. 

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of this tawdry saga is the detrimental effect and action that is being pressured on the RNZYS and its members by Dunphy, Farmer and Ross which jeopardises the very foundations of the 150 year old club with the aim of disenfranchising ETNZ and the 30 year relationship that has seen 4 America’s Cup victories together. It is for these reasons that ETNZ can never have any relationship with Mr Dunphy or his associates even if he were to magically find the funds to meet the full and actual costs of hosting the event and defending AC37.


Andy Maloney in action for SailGP ©Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

Wow, that’s pretty much a slam-dunk on the Kiwi Home Defence. Quite where they go from here is anyone’s guess. Does it all end up in court or what? The special motion before the membership of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has been withdrawn and we wait to see what the next moves are. Sharp cookies at the Squadron.

But there’s money, legal expertise and will within the KHD and that’s a powerful concoction that could ignite at a moment’s notice. My guess is that we haven’t heard the last of this story. I don’t think we’re quite at the end game just yet and we’ll only really know what is going to happen when the venue is announced and that’s just a short hop away and could, in reality, happen at any time.


©Ministry of Sport Ireland

What’s abundantly clear is that Grant Dalton’s keen to move on and I hope he’s given the space to do so. What’s equally exciting, and actually the part of the statement to the members that got me interested (let’s face it, this has been a mind-boringly dull exercise so far) is the confirmation of the core Kiwi team when the statement says: we have an incredibly strong sailing team with Glenn, Andy, Josh, Ray all returning, as well as the new signing of Nathan Outteridge which has been very popular and provides a considerable addition of experience.


©Bob Martin for SailGP

So Glenn Ashby is back, Josh Junior and Andy Maloney are providing both the muscle and the talent, Ray Davies is there as uber-coach and Nathan Outteridge is the anointed Kiwi patron saint of the wheels. No Pete Burling. No Blair Tuke.

As a friend opined to me: “perhaps the Ocean Race beckons,” whilst another, much appreciated daily emailer (you know who you are) offered: “Guess Burling, Tuke and Slingsby are all coaches in this cycle. Utter waste of talent.” And he’s right. This Cup cycle will see more talent benched than racing if things stay as they are. I’m sure Ernesto will have something to say on that front.


©KOS Picture Source / www.kospictures.com

But let’s end on a positive note. The Cup feels back on track to a degree. Dissenting voices are ebbing. The big guns are falling silent. Let’s hope they’re not reloading for an almighty crescendo that could scupper the vessel below the waterline before it’s even left the harbour. Do that and SailGP will stretch even further into the middle distance. The public will be lost. The eyeballs will wilt away to other sports competing harder for attention. The Cup must retain the higher ground and get on the front foot or a sideshow it becomes.

The critical stage has passed. All eyes on the venue announcement now.

Any chance before Christmas?

11 thoughts on “Hope

  1. What gets me about this , is that the Kiwi Home Defence numbers have never added up and are full of “what-ifs” instead of absolute rock solid figures, which is very much needed.
    And the Media has never asked even the simple questions about it or asked them how to run a effective defensive when the challengers have over twice the funding that we would have. There has been ample opportunities to ask these questions as well.
    (I would point out we ,NZ have done very well in the past on little funding but there is a limit where it becomes a negative).
    I hope this is over and we can get onto the important stuff now. (I still think a World Tour America’s Cup would be great, maybe that’s why the delay lol, who knows ?;))

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    1. Nic,
      This whole thing was just a massive misconstrued orchestrated PR Campaign full of misinformations by Mister Dunphy! A complete SOAP OPERA full of “ifs” and “buts” instead of hard figures.

      If Dunphy would had been straight with Dalton after ETNZ couldn’t reach a Government Deal and laid all of his cards on the table like “Grant, this is all what I have. What do you need?” we might have a different outcome in this.

      If I were Grant Dalton & ETNZ I would announce the Venue for AC37 ASAP to put an end to all of this because its becoming a huge distraction every minute that is gone by.

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      1. That’s a good point, if they’d all (government, ETNZ, and KHD players) just been working together from the beginning to put the amount together, we could have saved ourselves all of these headaches.

        Can we pretend it’s March again and just do it all over that way?

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  2. Methinks Team NZ doth protest too much. No mention of this letter in the NZ Herald today that I could see. Their Sports Menu doesn’t even have a section on Sailing but there is one for American Sports. (This in the most sailingest city in the world)

    Incidentally, I watched the “Highlights of the Saudi F1”. The most juvenile and mind-bogglingly boring event ever.

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      1. Jeeez, Sail GP and F1 have this virtual reality look about them and they need an overhyped commentator to tell us what is going on. I’m still sticking to the great Kiwi tradition, sex-on-the-beach ( a gentle wind, the tide lapping against your feet, the morning sun, and the thrill of the possibility of getting rumbled) until something better turns up.

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      2. Any chance you’ll make it to Chicago, Magnus? I’ll aim to get there unless one of the TBA locations is on the East Coast.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wondering if you get the 49er newsletters? Announcement about a new format world championship in their front page. Happy to explain more of you’re interested.

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  4. What confuses me is why all of the commentators and critics keep talking about the current budget. They keep insisting that the AC doesn’t need to cost so much. It is as if they want to amend a budget that has been decided upon. It is not the critics to rewrite the AC budget. It is a done deal and it is up to the Defender to make those decisions. Arguing a moot point is a huge waste of time and verbiage.I’ve not heard a word of any use at all. Please vomment

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