Nearly two months ago, in early September, a rumor doing the rounds within high-ranking Valencia and Spanish authorities was that should Emirates Team New Zealand come out victorious from the 34th America’s Cup match, the next edition of the world’s oldest sports event was, most likely, to be held in Valencia. Our sources weren’t able or willing to give a credible reason as to why the Kiwi challenger would ever do that, especially when taking into consideration the NZ$36-million investment by the New Zealand government. As a result, I quickly dismissed this rumor as nothing more than the wishful thinking local politicians in Valencia show more often than not in issues that concern the America’s Cup!
There were some reports coming from San Francisco throughout the summer that Grant Dalton’s team had financial “issues” and that the situation was very “tight” but again we didn’t have any hard facts to back those claims. In any case, it wouldn’t be a surprise since the kiwi team had, by far the smallest budget, half of Artemis Racing’s budget and a third of Oracle Team USA’s. Without a billionaire backing the team and the equivalent of a blank check that would cover any unforeseen expenses, Grant Dalton was known to be walking a tightrope until the final race.
What we didn’t expect though was the information we received today by a source close to an Italian America’s Cup challenger. We deem the source to be very reliable but in any case we will seek an official comment by both Alinghi and Emirates Team New Zealand. According to that source, it appears that by the end of July the kiwi coffers were drying up at an alarming pace, prompting Grant Dalton to pick up the phone and frantically call anyone that would be willing to offer the struggling team a lifeline. Its sponsors, backers and the New Zealand government had turned off the sponsorship pipelines and even if they were willing to squeeze out some additional funding, it wouldn’t be enough and the timeline was extremely tight.
The deus ex machina needed to solve this apparently insoluble difficulty was, allegedly, no other than Ernesto Bertarelli. It wouldn’t be the first time either the Swiss billionaire came to the rescue of Team New Zealand and his help was dearly needed as, allegedly, the kiwis were even facing the situation of being unable to fill up the tanks of their tenders or buy sandwiches.
Bertarelli’s help came, allegedly, on July 28th and was an emergency fund of €2.5 million that would allow Dean Barker and his crew to go through the remaining two months the America’s Cup was scheduled to last. However, it came with strings attached, mainly that should they win, the 35th America’s Cup would be held in Valencia… To what extent is that condition credible? It was widely believed that as per the sponsorship agreement with the NZ government, Team New Zealand had to defend in their home country. However, what was the alternative? Drop out of the competition because of lack of funding?
Could this also be the reason behind ETNZ’s precipitous fall when they were leading by 8-1 in the final match and their complete inability to react to Oracle Team USA’s comeback? If this information is true, it will once again show that a team that doesn’t have a free-spending billionaire behind, will never win the America’s Cup!