Team NZ manages to keep afloat

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Team Nz Jun 25 AFP Chief executive Grant Dalton (R) had expressed his fear for Team NZ's future a fortnight ago. Photo: Javier Soriano

Wellington – Team New Zealand said on Tuesday it had secured the sponsorship needed to contest the next America’s Cup, just weeks after pleading for an urgent government cash injection to keep it afloat.

“The team has now reached the point where it has the confidence to mount a challenge for the 35th America’s Cup,” chairman Keith Turner said.

“The team has secured sufficient private and sponsorship funding to proceed to the next stage without needing government funding during this period.”

Team New Zealand has been one of the leading contenders in yachting’s most prestigious event in recent decades, winning in 1995 and 2000, and being the beaten finalist in three of the four regattas since.

It was pipped 8-9 in the final against Oracle Team USA in San Francisco in 2013 after leading 1-8, in what has been described as one of the greatest chokes in sporting history.

Less than a fortnight ago, Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton warned the syndicate would be “gone by the end of the month” if Wellington did not come to the rescue.

The government poured NZ$36 million (about R331 million) into the last America’s Cup campaign and gave Team NZ NZ$5 million in bridging finance to keep going after the San Francisco loss.

However, with an election looming in September, the response to the latest call for more taxpayer funds was lukewarm, with Prime Minister John Key saying the public interest in bankrolling the team was “waning”.

Dalton said funding support for the team had “coalesced” over the past week.

The next America’s Cup is due to be held in 2017 at a venue yet to be determined. – Sapa-AFP


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