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Team NZ Moves To Protect Itself From Poaching

April 1, 2003


Statement made by Ralph Norris, Trustee, Team New Zealand

Team New Zealand has moved decisively to preserve its ability to challenge for the America’s Cup in 2007 should a feasibility study show a challenge to have a realistic chance of success.

This includes protecting its key people and intellectual property. In particular it has

- A commitment from Tom Schnackenberg that he will be a member of the challenge should it proceed
- opened negotiations with an extended group of core team members, and is offering them employment contracts
- secured a $5 million seeding agreement from Government
- completed an internal review of the 2003 defense, which reviews factors contributing to the loss of the Cup
- committed to completing a review of the defense with sponsors and external business partners by the end of April and
- commenced a feasibility study on a 2007 challenge.

In the weeks since the end of the America’s Cup regatta, Team New Zealand has been extremely active. We were determined to never again be as vulnerable as we were in 2000 to defections.

We regard the commitment by Tom to be part of any future challenge to be critical, and he will be the nucleus of any 2007 Team New Zealand.

The agreement with the Government to underwrite team salaries for up to six months has given us the ability to move to offer written contracts to those team members we regard as critical to any future campaign.

We are currently in negotiation with the team members concerned.

Until negotiations are completed and contracts signed, we will keep the number and names of the team concerned confidential.

We will make a decision whether to mount a challenge in 2007 by October this year. At that time we would offer employment contracts to a wider group.

We have sufficient resources to cover the costs incurred during the period of the feasibility study. The seeding finance from the Government will be treated as a loan until a decision is made to challenge, and the sale of assets will cover repayment in the event we do not challenge.

Completing the internal review of the 2003 defense involved a frank appraisal of every facet of the campaign, and we believe we have pinpointed answers to the questions all New Zealanders are asking regarding our 0-5 loss.

Before sharing these answers we ask the public to first give us the opportunity to discuss the report with Team members, sponsors and business partners, as we believe we have a responsibility to involve them in the debrief.

At this stage we wish to go on record as stating the reasons identified by the report for our performance lie entirely within the Team. The reasons are not the result of insufficient sponsorship funding or the work of business partners. Our boat builders, suppliers and contractors all performed to very high standards and we again thank them for their solid support.

While we will in the future discuss the reasons identified by the report, there may be intellectual property we may wish to keep confidential if we believe that releasing this information may assist other syndicates.

In making this statement now we are fulfilling a commitment to provide the public with an update by the end of March of our assessment of the 2003 campaign.

The support we received from the public of New Zealand went beyond the Team’s highest hopes, and to a person the Team wishes to acknowledge the public’s loyalty and commitment, particularly when things started to go wrong.

We could have asked no more of the public and our greatest regret is that we were not able to give the public an on water performance worthy of its commitment to us.

We hope this progress report shows we are moving forward rapidly to ensure we are not vulnerable and to complete our feasibility report on our ability to mount a 2007 challenge capable of returning the Cup to New Zealand.

Our present view is that if we were to mount a challenge we would only be successful with a significantly increased budget funded by global corporates, and that given the improvements we anticipate need to be made, we would need a boat design, sail and sailing team package greatly superior to that of any syndicate that competed in the 2003 regattas.

Team New Zealand trustees are currently seeking to appoint a Managing Director to take on overall responsibility for Team New Zealand. Reporting to this person will be a Director of Sailing, who will have the experience to lead the sailing group and control the boat design process. Other senior staff will be appointed to handle funding, facilities and other administration functions.

In preparing a feasibility study on mounting an America’s Cup challenge in Europe, the Team will consult with the RNZYS, leaders from the yachting industry and other parties able to assist.


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