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Plain Sailing


The excitement is already building in Auckland as the landscape alters and the team ramps up for the next America’s Cup challenge – Emirates Team New Zealand’s defence of the 36th America’s Cup regatta on familiar waters.

Believe magazine editor Kirsty Morris-Rickard talks to the Chairman of Emirates Team New Zealand, Sir Stephen Tindall, to get his insights into how the America’s Cup is transforming Auckland.

You can sense Sir Stephen’s excitement about the changes happening already in Auckland as preparations are well underway for the 2021 America’s Cup regatta.
“Approximately half the tanks have already been removed from Wynyard Wharf – something that we have been waiting to see for years and is the catalyst for preparations for hosting the America’s Cup.

“There are great plans for the new Wynyard Wharf marine facility, including parks and canals, and it is great to finally see the removal of the tank farm that dominated that landscape,”he says.

The piece of currently poorly utilised land will become the heart of a thriving marine enterprises precinct, which carries on the historic presence of boat building in this area.

Built in time for the America’s Cup races, the precinct will benefit hugely from the refit work generated during the Challenge, from visiting superyachts and vessels.
The likely completion date for this is September this year. The new facility itself is expected to generate a huge number of jobs.

Sir Stephen mentions that three syndicates are waiting for this to happen, so that they can erect their bases in preparation for the Cup.

“We are excited about the whole complex. A world-class architect has been engaged to assist in the erection of the Challenger of Record Prada’s base at Hobson Wharf – incorporating cultural sensitivities into the design with new buildings around the precinct, which will enhance the whole area.”

He says the whole area will liven up downtown Auckland.

Sir Stephen says that interest in the event is great. “Already we are oversubscribed with super yachts, with many having to anchor out in the harbour and Hauraki Gulf due to spaces already being reserved.

The economic benefits are vast. “Each super yacht brings an estimated $2 million to $5 million into the Auckland and New Zealand economies through its spending while it is in the country. The marine industry benefits too, both in booking refits and maintenance and giving the maritime industry a huge boost.

“Add to that, each syndicate will be made up of 90-100 people per team, plus their families. With an estimated 270 people per team there are expected flow-on effects for tourism and rental accommodation, and a general boost to the overall New Zealand economy.

“These people generally travel around regional New Zealand while they are here, spending more money,” he says.

Furthermore, 24 Rayglass RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) are being built for the on-water operations running the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA. At the conclusion of the Cup match in March 2021 the fleet will be distributed free of charge to Coastguard units throughout the country, benefiting many boaties around New Zealand’s vast coastline and on our major rivers and lakes.

All of the boats are being constructed in New Zealand, benefiting the wider marine industry, and will be utilised for course marshalling, as umpire boats and as media and photo boats, as well as Emirates Team New Zealand chase boats to support the on-water operations of the new AC75 race boats.

“Cast your mind back to 1995, when we won the Cup in San Diego; this area was a complete mess, with water tests coming back that the area around the basin was the most polluted water in New Zealand. The popular Viaduct Basin is testament to the Cup’s ability to bring tourists to the area, with numbers expected to triple or quadruple once the village is up and running.”

Sir Stephen says it is also exciting that coverage of the America’s Cup in New Zealand will be free to air – as opposed to the paid TV experience for the past two campaigns. This he anticipates will also attract a huge following, as enormous numbers are expected to follow the event streaming on social platforms such as YouTube and Facebook Live – and from their mobile devices.

“The live streams are going to show New Zealand and its beauty to the rest of the world, and have a positive effect on tourism in New Zealand for many years to come.” 
Coincidentally, APEC is being hosted in Auckland in 2021.

“We are modelling the economic benefit on around $1 billion, by the time you take into account all those overseas syndicate members employed in New Zealand (and their contribution to taxes such as PAYE and GST), extra spending from tourism, rentals and living costs and the flow-on effects to help fund the new infrastructure.

“In terms of our team – they’re looking good. Boat building and the first completion of the AC75 yacht is almost ready – we’re waiting on the Italian-made foil arms to arrive. The Emirates Team New Zealand base is all good, pristine and ready to go.”

For the first time in the history of Emirates Team New Zealand, the team has begun constructing its America’s Cup boat in its own boatyard on Auckland’s North Shore.

Led by Emirates Team New Zealand Build Operations Manager Sean Regan, the facility, which has been a long-term vision for the team, has been built from the ground up, turning a clean factory floor into one of the most up-to-date, purpose-built composite boat building facilities in the country.

Currently team members are sailing in various regattas around the world, getting in some practice.

“The team are looking great and preparing flat-out for the defence!”

Sir Stephen Tindall

Sir Stephen Tindall is best known as a businessman, philanthropist and investor.
He is the founder and director of the Warehouse Group which he started in 1982, and he has had a long association with Emirates Team New Zealand having backed the team for six previous campaigns this being the seventh. Since he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors six years ago he’s been directly involved with the team’s management.

Clearing the decks

Since Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup win in Bermuda in June 2017, and the subsequent confirmation of Auckland as the host venue for the next America’s Cup in 2021, there have been a huge number of stakeholders working behind the scenes to get planning, consent and building underway.
Emirates Team New Zealand and government and council agencies have all contributed to the Viaduct Events Centre (the old events centre on Halsey Wharf) becoming the first ‘live’ venue of the 36th America’s Cup as the Emirates Team New Zealand base.

In the past few months the Viaduct Events Centre has been through a complex renovation, and it is now
ready to house the two giant AC75 boats and all associated facilities, including a rig bay, sail loft and workshops and a fully functional gym and public innovation area on the ground floor. The base will also have a hospitality area on the second floor and full team design, administration and mission control on the third floor.