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Yachting: Team NZ Challenge To Go Ahead

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Team New Zealand has released a statement this afternoon confirming it will challenge for the 35th America's Cup.

Chairman Keith Turner said the team had secured sufficient private funding and sponsorship to be able to commit to a challenge without having to ask for Government funding.

"Now, with the assistance of long-time supporters Sir Stephen Tindall, Matteo de Nora and other private donors and sponsors, we are delighted to be able to say that we are funded through to late this year," Turner said.

A challenge had seemed unlikely even recently after chief executive Grant Dalton told a press conference that without an immediate multi-million-dollar cash injection from taxpayers, the syndicate would be "gone by the end of the month".

The Government contributed $36 million to Team NZ's last campaign, which ended in an 8-9 loss to Oracle in the closest America's Cup in history.

Dalton, in the spotlight recently after the Herald revealed he was paid an annual salary of about $2 million during the last challenge, said in the statement: "The team has been working towards this moment almost since the day of the last race in San Francisco.

"The funding support for the team that has coalesced over the past week means we can continue the design and engineering development, and keep racing, until main sponsorship funds begin to flow.

"To avoid falling behind the opposition, our design and engineering team has been working on the software tools they will need for the challenge.

"We now await the announcement of venue for the challengers' preliminary series and then the venue for the challengers' semi-finals, finals and the America's Cup match, so that we can put the finishing touches to the team's business plan and present it to our backers for approval."

Entries for the 35th America's Cup close on August 8.

New Zealand racing

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today welcomed the announcement that Team NZ would not need any Government funding for the rest of the year.

Team NZ will now submit a funding proposal to the Government that reflects its private sector sponsors in the coming weeks.

"We will have to see how sponsorship of the challenge would benefit New Zealand's visibility on the world stage - especially for our exporters. That's very important to the Government," Mr Joyce said.

"While they didn't win the America's Cup in San Francisco last time, Team NZ were excellent ambassadors for New Zealand throughout what became an epic contest.

"It's positive news they will be challenging for the Auld Mug again and I also welcome their announcement they have secured private funding until the end of the year."

Last year the Government invested $5 million of interim funding in Team NZ to cover a seven-month period, while the team decided whether it would challenge again.

"When I met with the Board of Team New Zealand a few weeks ago, I advised it was my preference it secure the support of its private backers rather than seeking more money from the Government at this time," Mr Joyce said.

"I congratulate it on achieving that milestone."

Team NZ received $36 million in taxpayer funding for the last America's Cup. An independent evaluation released in March this year showed a positive impact of $87 million to the New Zealand economy.

*Thumbnail photo: Flickr/russellstreet Photo: Flickr/christieandsteve
*Original story: The New Zealand Herald via Google news (search term: yachting)
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