Tau­ranga stand­ing by as plan B for host­ing Cup

Weekend Herald - - Bring On The Weekend - Pe­ter White

Tau­ranga is ready to step up if Auck­land gets stripped of its rights to host the next Amer­ica’s Cup.

A high-pow­ered del­e­ga­tion from Emi­rates Team New Zealand — Dick Meacham, Kevin Shoe­bridge and Ray Davies — was hosted by Tau­ranga Yacht Club com­modore Nick Wrinch dur­ing the week with their mis­sion to con­sider Tau­ranga as an al­ter­na­tive to Auck­land as host city for the Amer­ica’s Cup Chal­lenger se­ries and the Amer­ica’s Cup fi­nals be­tween Jan­uary and March 2021.

A venue has to be an­nounced by Au­gust next year and if the dead­line is not met, the re­gatta will be moved to Italy.

Al­though the prospect of Amer­ica’s Cup boats rac­ing off the coast of Mount Maun­ganui in 2021 came a step closer, it was still “a small chance”, Wrinch said.

He told the Bay of Plenty Times the del­e­ga­tion was not daunted by the chal­lenge of build­ing the in­fra­struc­ture to house the event vil­lage at the Port of Tau­ranga.

“The guys are very much the type of peo­ple who are used to deal­ing with prob­lems and sort­ing things out. We look at it and think ‘how would you ever do that’ and they look at it and go ‘let’s fix it’,” Wrinch said.

“Look, I still think it is a small chance we would do it in Tau­ranga but it is a pos­si­ble chance”.

The mes­sage was clear from Team New Zealand that the last thing they want is for the Amer­ica’s Cup se­ries to go to Italy, Wrinch said.

“So they were think­ing if Auck­land doesn’t work out, then have we got other op­tions in New Zealand. I think that was [the pur­pose] of their trip.

“I think they are also quite keen for the news to come out that they had been in Tau­ranga. It might just wake the ideas up of a few peo­ple in Auck­land and not to take for granted that it will be in Auck­land come what may”.

The Team New Zealand vis­i­tors went out through the heads past Mauao to view the po­ten­tial race area be­fore meet­ing with Port of Tau­ranga of­fi­cials.

“There is plenty of room. There is not ship­ping pi­loted through the mid­dle of it. There is a sep­a­rate zone be­tween Karewa and Motiti [Is­lands] that is handy to the har­bour so they don’t have to travel for 40 . . . min­utes to get out there,” Wrinch said.

“They need about three hectares for the ac­tual bases so we just have to wait and see. The Port [of Tau­ranga] has cre­ated the deep wa­ter ac­cess so they are the con­trol­ling fac­tor.”

Port of Tau­ranga chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Cairns be­lieves Team New Zealand would like to get Auck­land over the line but ac­knowl­edged Tau­ranga was the only al­ter­na­tive.

“From a New Zealand in­cor­po­rated per­spec­tive, if the choice is be­tween Italy and New Zealand we would be pulling out all stops to make it work,” Cairns said. “The port has a track record of al­ways look­ing to say yes, rather than say­ing no, but in terms of ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion clearly Auck­land is the bet­ter bet to show­case New Zealand to [the] world.

“But if you look at where it was held last time, Ber­muda has a pop­u­la­tion of around 60,000 with three ho­tels. We can cer­tainly ac­com­mo­date the cruise ships and for the so­lu­tions for the land they need we would cer­tainly move heaven and earth if the choice was Italy.”

Tau­ranga Mayor Greg Brown­less loved the idea of Tau­ranga host­ing the Amer­ica’s Cup but was re­al­is­tic about the chances of it hap­pen­ing.

“It would be fan­tas­tic but I don’t want to get my hopes up be­cause there could be var­i­ous rea­sons why they are do­ing this. One might be to cause Auck­land to make a de­ci­sion if they think it could pos­si­bly go else­where,” he said.

“Also from our point of view, where would the money [come from]? If the Gov­ern­ment is pre­pared do it . . . we would love to host it.”

Brown­less sees po­ten­tial in the Tau­ranga re­gion be­ing part of a sup­port base to Auck­land host­ing the event.

“We could be the base for some of the teams that come to New Zealand to prac­tice. That is an­other pos­si­bil­ity.” Bay of Plenty Times

Pic­ture / Pho­to­sport

Team NZ CEO Grant Dal­ton with the Amer­ica’s Cup, which ETNZ wants to de­fend in Auck­land.

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