Grant Dalton with ETNZ President Matteo di Nora
James Boyd Photography /
Grant Dalton with ETNZ President Matteo di Nora

The ground breaking deal

Grant Dalton discusses Emirates Team New Zealand's ground breaking partnership with Luna Rossa

Thursday November 3rd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Following permission being given by the defender for Luna Rossa to become a late challenger for the 34th America’s Cup (final entries were due before the end of May), so yesterday in Alicante, Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton unveiled details of a partnership with Patricio Bertelli’s Italian challenger that is believed to be unique in Cup history.

“For a period of a few months we, as Emirates Team New Zealand, have been discussing with them a joint collaboration, a sharing of all resource, primarily design in the first instance. They would take our boat one, which is just about to commence building, and they would build an absolutely identical boat from every nut and bolt and layer of carbon fibre and then move on to potentially developing a change to that boat or their own second boat as we move on to our second boat.”

However since this initial collaboration was discussed around a month and a half ago, the deal has expanded. Luna Rossa has employed a small design team (compared to Emirates Team New Zealand’s that is) and the Kiwi team has already completed the design of their first AC72 as the build of the first Italian and New Zealand AC72s takes place, both design teams will be able to work in unison with a view to developing their first boats further and/or building a second AC72.

The agreement between the two teams is only allowed to last up until the end of 2012 – as permitted under article 33.1 of the Protocol governing the 34th America’s Cup which states: from ‘1 January 2013 each Competitor shall engage separate and independent Designers who, from that date forward shall have no design involvement with any other Competitor’s program, etc’.

“Because this is such a new class no one team can afford to have all the answers at this point,” continued Dalton.

The Deed of Gift for the America’s Cup states that the hull of an America’s Cup challenging yacht must be built in the country where its challenging yacht club is based, so while Cooksons in New Zealand will be building the Kiwi yachts, Persico in Italy – who have most recently built Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – will build an exact replica of the first Kiwi AC72 for Luna Rossa. The Italian team’s hulls will then be shipped to New Zealand for completion, have its wing added, etc.

Dalton says that the New Zealand marine industry will be a winner from this deal: “Just to put it in perspective in terms of how this will benefit the New Zealand industry - one of these boats is around 60,000 man hours (I say around because we don’t know yet) and for the moulds and the hulls alone it is about 15000 man hours. So about 45,000 hours of that [the build of the Italian AC72] will be done in New Zealand, including the wing and they will go on to a second wing after that. So the NZ industry is a big winner in this.”

Luna Rossa have already acquired land to build their base in Auckland at Westhaven (next door to the Viaduct Basin) and will start moving in shortly.

While Emirates Team New Zealand are being paid a presumably not insubstantial fee for this collaboration and will also benefit from a slightly enlarged design team, it also means they will get some competition on the water when their first boats are launched – which the Protocol states cannot be before 1 July 2012.

For Luna Rossa, the collaboration is about the only way they could have entered the 34th America’s Cup at such a late stage, although for the very purpose of enticing in late entries America’s Cup Race Management have commissioned the design and R&D of their own AC72.
As to why Luna Rossa are not going it alone as they have before, Dalton states: “Financially they could do it. Whether mentally you’d try it or not I don’t know. It is really late. At the moment you have four challengers and I don’t know where the fourth one is. I only thought there was two. Luna Rossa has been a bolter coming out of nowhere. They certainly couldn’t start from scratch. That would have been impossible. They could have bought the shared design package, but I have no idea what that even looks like. There could be people from that who might work for them.

“It is a very open agreement, totally transparent, back to back contracts in terms of builders and suppliers and they are the only team we could ever work with,” states Dalton. “The country still has got a love affair with Luna Rossa after the 2000 and 2003 environment. They are very open and they think very similarly to us in terms of their ideals of what the future of the Cup should be and in Bertelli you have a very straight guy that says it how it is and we have absolute trust in them and they have absolute trust in us.

“So it is unique as far as I’m aware. It has never been done in the history of the Cup. The sport of secrecy and deceit has been blown apart from this deal frankly, because this is about complete openness, sharing and creating two teams that simply go faster and it will certainly benefit us in lots of ways and it will benefit the New Zealand industry and it is a great credit to the Emirates Team New Zealand design team and the boat builders that Luna Rossa has seen fit to take enough confidence to enter the Cup this late and join with us to hopefully create a greater force for both of us – the sum of the individual parts creating a greater force.”

Come the end of 2012 then the two teams will go their separate ways. Dalton confirmed absolutely that Emirate Team New Zealand will be building a second boat, but says he is unsure of Luna Rossa’s plans – whether they will build a second boat or modify their first.
During yesterday’s informal announcement on the Camper stand within the Volvo Ocean Race village, Dalton also took a pop at the cost of the 34th America’s Cup. “It is interesting that it doesn’t appear on the face of it from what we have seen in recent history that billionaires like cost cutting. In fact it seems that billionaires like pushing the cost up. But Patricio Bertelli does share a vision of cost cutting in the future to create a sustainability that isn’t sustainable at the moment.” Should either team win the 34th America’s Cup then they also plan to resume the team nationality rule in some form.

When asked why Luna Rossa rather than any other potential challenger Dalton provided the analogy that if the All-Blacks only ever trained with Georgia they’d never be any good. “The common goal is Oracle because they have got a leap on all of us in lots of ways. We are all playing catch-up and you have got to look at ways you can do that.”

While Oracle has acquired two additional AC45s (in addition to their existing two), Dalton says that Emirates Team NZ isn’t going to take this route. Instead they have their 33ft catamarans they have been using for training and development. “We could never in a million years afford to throw money at 45 footers.”

Luna Rossa has yet to announce its team, but their participation in the Extreme Sailing Series was a clear indication of the desire to take part in the America's Cup. And interestingly their Extreme 40 helmsman is British - Paul Campbell-James.


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