America’s Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand has formally broken off communication with the Kiwi Home Defence campaign lead by New Zealand businessman Mark Dunphy.
ETNZ issued a fiery press release overnight containing what it describes as damning details behind the KHD group’s bid to host the 37th America’s Cup in Auckland in 2024.
In the release, copied below, ETNZ presents evidence of the KHD’s involvement in attempts to persuade the New York Yacht Club to instigate proceedings to attempt to replace the British Ineos Team UK/Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd. partnership as Challenger of Record for AC37.
In a statement yesterday Mr Dunphy refuted this assertion, along with suggestions that he had been in contact with Alinghi team owner Ernesto Bertarelli and Oracle Team USA owner Larry Ellison – both rumoured to be backers of the move to oust the British challenger via an action in the New York Supreme Court.
“Claims have been made by Grant Dalton about Kiwi Home Defence and our proposal and motives in offering financial backing and support to keep the America’s Cup defence in 2024 in Auckland,” Dunphy said in a statement. “These claims are false. The Kiwi Home Defence team and Mark Dunphy are not working with, or on behalf of, any offshore interests. The Squadron and Team New Zealand are aware of this. Any assertion to the contrary is completely untrue.
“None of our prospective donors have any interests which in any way conflict with Team New Zealand successfully defending the America’s Cup. We confirm that we would never countenance funding from a challenger team or any party whose interests conflict with New Zealand’s interests, and those of the Squadron or TNZ.”
However, evidence cited in the release from Emirates Team New Zealand, includes excerpts from an email written by New Zealand lawyer Hamish Ross to the New York Yacht Club on behalf of the KDF requesting that the NYYC challenge the validity of Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd. as a bona fides America’s Cup challenger.
The ETNZ release reads as follows:
Yesterday Mr Dunphy clearly stated in a press release that direct claims by Emirates Team New Zealand about his off shore dealings were ‘false’.
However despite both private and public requests for direct answers there has been nothing more than general sweeping press statements and an avoidance to directly answer our specific questions:
-Did you have a call with a member of the NYYC who is directly involved with the America’s Cup where you asked for their support to file an action in the New York Supreme Court to challenging the validity of Royal Yacht Squadron as Challenger of Record?
-Did you advise the NYYC member that you have the financial support of Ernesto Bertarelli and have also been communicating with Larry Ellison?
-Have you had any meetings with any persons who represent or could be deemed to represent a rival team intending to enter AC37?
– Was Hamish Ross representing you when he lobbied the NYYC via email to instigate an action in the New York Supreme Court ?
If it is was intended that yesterday’s statement is a denial then Mr Dunphy should look at his zoom call register and refresh his memory as the call was initiated by him. Emirates Team New Zealand were briefed in full on all discussion points immediately after the call in early September and have a record of it.
Furthermore, Emirates Team New Zealand now release details of an email (dated 26/8/21) to the Commodore of the NYYC from Dr. Hamish Ross with Mr Dunphy (both members of the RNZYS) in direct copy. Dr Ross was formally a legal counsel with Alinghi during their 2003, 2007 and 2010 campaigns. The email clearly outlines their intentional lobbying of the NYYC to take legal action in the New York Supreme Court against the Challenger of Record with a purpose of intentionally disrupting the venue selection process.
In the email, Dr.Ross outlines his representation: “I am assisting a group of prominent New Zealanders seeking to keep the next America’s Cup event in Auckland..”
It continues: “Through me, the group in NZL are asking the NYYC Club, in fulfilment of its supervisory role, to challenge RYSL over its bona fides as a qualified challenger. This may require an interpretation of the Deed to provide clarity for all concerned. The first step would be sending the challenger RYSL a letter and, if there is an unsatisfactory response, seeking an interpretation from the NY Supreme Court. Seeking an interpretation would disrupt the venue selection which is due to be announced on 17 September 2021. Given time is of the essence, I have taken the liberty of preparing a suggested form of letter as a starting point for consideration.
Assuming RYSL cannot qualify as a challenger, the NYYC’s challenge of 7 May 2021 as the next qualified challenge filed after RYSL’s challenge, would cause NYYC to become the next COR, with the new Protocol to be agreed between RNZYS and the NYYC.”
That challenge was in fact delivered personally to the RNZYS Commodore on behalf of NYYC by Dr Hamish Ross.
The actions of Mr Dunphy and Dr Hamish Ross clearly do not represent the best and honest intentions towards the RNZYS and Emirates Team New Zealand as they portray in their press releases and in public.
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said, “ Emirates Team New Zealand is disappointed by Mark Dunphy’s underhanded and deceitful attempts to undermine the RNZYS, ETNZ and the RYS with his despicable actions. We gave him every opportunity to tell us himself, but he chose not to and as far as we are concerned this puts an end to a regrettable chapter in AC37. We applaud Commodore Culver and the NYYC for wanting no part and rejecting Mr Ross and Mr Dunphy’s overtures.”
“The RNZYS is our representative club, we support them and I have no doubt the club will find this incredibly disappointing and will have their own process to deal with this situation.”
Emirates Team New Zealand and RNZYS have decided to cease all correspondence and any dealings with Mr Dunphy based on clear evidence of his and his associate Dr. Hamish Ross’s conflicted actions that they have refused to come clean on.
Main image © Emirates Team New Zealand