'Underhanded, deceitful': Team NZ turn back on Auckland bid

Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton. Photo: Getty Images
Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton. Photo: Getty Images
Team New Zealand won't be doing a deal with Auckland businessman Mark Dunphy to hold the 2024 America's Cup in Auckland.

Backroom dealings, attempted court action and conflicts of interest have been blamed for the fractured relationship between the two parties.

The venue for the 37th America's Cup was to be announced last week but Team New Zealand extended the deadline to continue assessing their options.

At the time of the delayed announcement, Team New Zealand chief executive officer Grant Dalton said Dunphy's plans to keep the cup racing in Auckland was not a factor in the delay.

On Wednesday Team New Zealand confirmed Auckland's last-gasp attempt, fronted by Dunphy, to be the next host venue was over.

In a statement issued by Team New Zealand, it said Team New Zealand and Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron had decided to cease all correspondence and any dealings with Dunphy.

The statement described Dunphy's attempts to get a privately funded bid off the ground as "underhanded and deceitful".

Team New Zealand had questioned where the money for the Auckland bid - said to be about $80 million - was coming from and were concerned about the involvement of offshore parties with links to their rivals.

In a tit-for-tat debate, Dunphy denied any overseas link in its bid and said his team were "not working with with, or on behalf of, any offshore interests."

However, Team New Zealand claimed to have information to the contrary.

A Zoom call this month and an email from last month showed Dunphy and New Zealander Dr Hamish Ross - who had served as legal counsel for Alinghi in their 2003, 2007 and 2010 America's Cup campaigns - had been in contact with the commodore of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) seeking help from the club that backed American Magic in 2021 and will be behind new challengers Stars + Stripes for the next cup campaign.

"The email clearly outlines their intentional lobbying of the NYYC to take legal action in the New York Supreme Court against the Challenger of Record with a purpose of intentionally disrupting the venue selection process," Team New Zealand's statement said.

The Challenger of Record - the Royal Yacht Squadron, backers of Team UK - was selected by Team New Zealand following the 36th America's Cup in Auckland and the two teams will work together to prepare the protocol for the next regatta.

Dunphy and Ross questioned the validity of this selection and are said to have told the NYYC it could usurp the British and take over as the Challengers of Record - which would lead to a new protocol needing to be agreed on with the potential to require the next host venue be Auckland.

"Team New Zealand is disappointed by Mark Dunphy's underhanded and deceitful attempts to undermine the RNZYS, ETNZ and the RYS with his despicable actions," Dalton said.

"We gave him every opportunity to tell us himself, but he chose not to and as far as we are concerned this puts an end to a regrettable chapter in AC37."

Dalton has not given a timeline for when the host venue for the next America's Cup will be announced.

Spain, Ireland and Saudi Arabia are still in the running.

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