America's Cup Win Promises Windfall for Jubilant New Zealand

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand ’s repossession of the America’s Cup, yachting’s oldest prize, is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the jubilant South Pacific nation.

Kiwis woke Tuesday to the news that Emirates Team New Zealand had defeated Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA 7-1 in Bermuda to take back the Cup it lost in 2003. The win will boost the country’s exports of boats, marine technology and equipment and attract more superyachts for refits, said Peter Busfield, Executive Director of the New Zealand Marine Industry Association.

America's Cup Win Promises Windfall for Jubilant New Zealand

“The way we did it, the accolades we’re getting internationally for our innovation and the quality of our sailors, people are saying New Zealand just bundles excellence,” Busfield said in a telephone interview from Bermuda. “It’s a huge bonus for the country, and obviously the marine industry will be at the leading edge of that.”

New Zealand is expected to host the next America’s Cup regatta in Auckland -- known as the city of sails -- with the event likely to be held in 2021 if organizers stick to the current four-year format. Its defense there in 2000 and subsequent loss to Switzerland’s Alinghi in 2003 were worth about NZ$500 million ($364 million) each to the economy, according to Market Economics.

Greg Akehurst, a director at Market Economics, said much had changed since then and it was difficult to estimate what a defense might now be worth, but the benefits of holding the Cup would certainly run to hundreds of millions of dollars.


“One thing New Zealand benefited from majorly last time was the superyacht community that came down for the events and the flow-on effects that had into the marine industry in terms of refits, tourism expenditure and so on,” he said. “I think that would occur again. But it’s not just the immediate hit, it’s the long-term benefits for the marine industry.”

Most of the boats competing in this year’s regatta, including Oracle, relied on components built in New Zealand.

Busfield said he expects the Cup to help grow the almost NZ$2 billion marine industry by about 25 percent over the coming years as more people take up sailing domestically and international demand for New Zealand’s boating technology grows. Annual superyacht visits could more than double to about 120 a year by the time of the Cup defense from around 55 currently, bringing in several hundred million dollars of additional revenue, he said.

Team New Zealand’s victory was sweet revenge for Kiwis, who watched in horror in 2013 as Oracle overturned a 1-8 deficit to win the Cup 9-8 -- the biggest comeback in the event’s 166-year history.

Pedal Power

America's Cup Win Promises Windfall for Jubilant New Zealand

New Zealand first won the Auld Mug, as the America’s Cup is known, in San Diego in 1995 with the yacht “Black Magic.” This year it pioneered a cycling or “cyclor” grinding system to power its version of the 50-foot catamarans used in Bermuda, which fly across the water on foils.

"The crewmanship aboard Team New Zealand has been outstanding and the innovative use of pedal power to drive the hydraulics on the New Zealand boat has showcased Kiwi ingenuity to the world," Prime Minister Bill English said in a statement.

Work is underway for a victory parade for the sailors when they return home.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron said it had accepted an offer from Italy’s Circolo della Vela Sicilia, the club behind Luna Rossa, to become Challenger of Record for the next America’s Cup.