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Team NZ still to sign America's Cup deal

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/01/2017

Team New Zealand are still to a agree to a new framework for the America's Cup which the other teams say will lift the event into a new era.

Five of the six competitors in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda in May and June have signed up to the plan for subsequent regattas.

However, the Kiwi syndicate is still to come on board.

The framework aims to make it easier to meet the multi-million dollar costs of boats, raise sponsorship and give clarity for sailors, fans and broadcasters.

Team NZ skipper Glenn Ashby expressed misgivings in July about signing up to what was then still just a proposal, saying the team was concerned about the restrictions it could impose.

The team's Twitter account posted that it believed the future America's Cup format should "be decided by the Defender and Challenger of Record as it has historically been".

Martin Whitmarsh, the chief executive of British challengers Land Rover BAR, said in a statement he is optimistic Team NZ will come around.

"It is clear that co-operation is better for all of the stakeholders in the America's Cup," Whitmarsh said.

The agreement has been signed by defenders Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing, Team France, Land Rover BAR and SoftBank Team Japan and their respective yacht clubs.

It marks a major shift for the "Auld Mug", which is governed by a Deed of Gift.

"For the first time in more than 165 years, the teams have got together for the benefit of not only themselves but for the America's Cup," said New Zealander Russell Coutts, the five-time America's Cup winner who now leads the organisation that runs the event.

The new framework will determine the format of the next two America's Cup cycles, its protocols and its class rules.

Until now the winning yacht club and its team have become the event's trustees, responsible for outlining the terms of the next edition.

This had often ended in long pauses and resulted in lengthy and costly legal battles.

"There is now a clear plan in place that confirms the format for the competition using existing boats and equipment as much as possible to reduce costs," Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA's skipper, said.

The target cost to field a competitive new team would now be $US30 million ($NZ41 million) to $US40 million ($NZ55 million), which would represent a "significant reduction" from existing budgets, Whitmarsh said.

A shift to super-fast "foiling" catamarans has transformed the America's Cup, which was last won by Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA in a dramatic head-to head finale with Team NZ in San Francisco Bay in 2013.

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