Mark Dunphy calls on RNZYS members to pressure executive over Americas Cup venue

Mark Dunphy, the businessman who has pledged tens of millions of dollars to keep the America’s Cup here, is urging members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron to lobby its executive to announce Auckland as the next venue.

In an open letter sent to around 3500 members of the squadron on Tuesday, Dunphy asked members to encourage the RNZYS commodore and other elected members “to take a much more active involvement in the America’s Cup arrangements” to ensure Auckland is announced as venue, when the protocol is announced next week.

While under the rules of the America’s Cup the squadron is the body that officially holds the America’s Cup, commodore Aaron Young has repeatedly said responsibilities for “all aspects” of organisation for the 37th running of the America’s Cup lies with Team New Zealand.

“It is both ETNZ’s and our preference for this defence to be staged in New Zealand, however, the reality is that currently there is not a valid option to do so,” Young said in an update to members on October 20 in which he expressed “complete confidence” in Team New Zealand.

Even before Team New Zealand beat Luna Rosa to retain the America’s Cup in Auckland in March, the team had confirmed that it was considering taking the world’s oldest international sporting competition offshore.

After three months of exclusive negotiations with the Government ended, Team New Zealand has been courting venues around the world, including Ireland, Spain and Saudi Arabia. What Team New Zealand repeatedly claimed was a firm deadline to announce the venue for the next cup defence, September 17, came and went.

Team New Zealand is due to announce the protocol for the next America’s Cup on November 17 and Dunphy, who says his involvement in the America’s Cup dates back to the 1980s, says Auckland should be announced as the venue.

A former executive at high profile 1980s investment bank Fay Richwhite, Dunphy has built a large business in the oil and gas industry through his company Greymouth Petroleum.

His efforts to keep the cup in New Zealand have not been met warmly by Team New Zealand, perhaps unsurprisingly, after he stated publicly that a condition of funding was the removal of Grant Dalton as Team New Zealand chief executive (a position he has since withdrawn).

After a series of letters were exchanged, Team New Zealand said it would not have any further contact with Dunphy, after claiming he was part of a campaign to challenge the validity of Ineos Team UK as Challenger of Record.

Nevertheless Dunphy has persisted with his campaign,claiming there is credible funding to hold the event in Auckland.

“We, at Kiwi Home Defence, consider there is more than sufficient funding available in New Zealand to hold a successful defence here. We say that Auckland should be confirmed in next week’s protocol as the venue for AC37,” Dunphy wrote.

“I have expressly offered a firm contribution of $40 million to support our home defence of the America’s Cup in 2024.”

Team New Zealand and the RNZYS have both been asked for comment on the letter.

Dunphy said Team New Zealand appeared determined to reject his offers. Previously he has called on the team to explain why.

“Team New Zealand’s attitude is puzzling and concerning. There is much conjecture in the media and in sailing circles that the team leadership is determined to move the next event beyond New Zealand shores in pursuit of a more lucrative hosting rights payment,” Dunphy wrote.

“There is also conjecture that government support is conditional on appropriate independent governance of the event organisation, and the team leadership refuses to accept this requirement. If either were in fact the case, this would be a cause of real concern both to RNZYS as the Cup defender, and to all members.”

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