America’s Cup 2021: Team New Zealand could miss World Series regatta after missing deadline for entry fee payment of $435k

Team New Zealand has further strained its already frail relationship with other America’s Cup syndicates by missing the payment deadline to enter next month’s World Series in Auckland – the last regatta ahead of the battle for the Auld Mug.

While TNZ boss Grant Dalton says the required US$300,000 ($435,000) had been paid late on Tuesday, the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa confirmed to the Herald that the money has not been received.

TNZ have provided evidence to the Herald the payment has been made.

TNZ will launch its second AC75 tomorrow evening.

The Herald has been informed that all three challengers – Luna Rossa, American Magic and INEOS Team UK – paid the entry fee by the 13 November deadline but that TNZ, who reclaimed the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017, had failed to do so.

It is understood that the late payment may not be accepted – as the challengers may refuse the defender the opportunity to get valuable match racing in against them in what is TNZ’s only chance to test themselves against the challengers ahead of the Cup match.

The World Series regatta is due to be held from 17-20 December on the Waitematā Harbour and is TNZ’s final chance to come face-to-face with the challengers, as it doesn’t have to race in the Prada Cup and will only compete in the America’s Cup match from March 6.

Team New Zealand is likely to be underdone because they will have had only a minimal number of sailing days on the water before the World Series regatta compared to the challengers who launched their second generation of AC 75s more than a month earlier.

The relationship between the Challenger of Record and TNZ has been poor for some time and was exacerbated by the recent Arbitration Panel decision to exclude courses B and C from the Cup. It prompted a flurry of accusations and was only resolved when the Ports of Auckland stepped in to allow the use of the inner harbour courses.

At the weekend, Luna Rossa team director and skipper Max Sirena told the Herald he was unhappy with a key design component provided by TNZ for the America’s Cup, adding they would be unlikely to test themselves against the defender in the lead-up to next month’s World Series regatta.

Meanwhile, there’s belief among the British Challenge INEOS Team UK that despite the vast differences in design, the three challengers are very close in performance.

Luna Rossa, INEOS Team UK and American Magic spent time yesterday on one of the reinstated inner harbour courses in close proximity.

INEOS Team UK grinder Freddie Carr says they were checking in to see where they were at.

“We were seeing where our upgrades that we have been doing over the previous few weeks have got us and it’s positive. We are stepping forwards and feel we are a little bit under our ceiling where we are going to race, as I am sure all teams do, but I will tell you one thing – this Challenger series is going to be close.”

Carr says he initially feared we would potentially have a Cup like 2013 in San Francisco where there were only four challengers.

“It was a really good America’s Cup match but the Challenger series in ’13 wasn’t brilliant. What I think we will get in this America’s Cup is a close Challenger series and I couldn’t be more excited about it,” Carr said.

As for TNZ’s second boat launch tomorrow evening, Carr expects the defender will reveal something special.

“You can’t ignore the fact that Team New Zealand won the last America’s Cup in Bermuda by an incredible amount of innovation.

“On the flipside of that I think they have done a very good job of writing this rule which potentially took away a lot of this gain that they had over the sailing world. Now the question of what their second race boat will look like is the million dollar question. But it’s Team New Zealand – they have been over 20-25 years on how they develop their boats and I think we might see something quite exciting. Let’s hope so.”

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