The Youth America’s Cup has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and the immigration rules imposed by the New Zealand government. The competition was supposed to take place in March, but the senior version will still go ahead.
“We are bitterly disappointed,” said Hayden Porter, chief executive of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), the race hosts. “The sailors, boat builders, sponsors, plus everyone who has invested their time and passion into the Youth America’s Cup event are all devastated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment’s (MBIE) decision that this event cannot go ahead.”
The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in sailing and one of the oldest in any sports. It is competed between two state-of-the-art boats – a challenger and a holder. There is now a parallel youth competition that acts as a curtain-raiser. The 2021 youth edition – organised by RNZYS, the China Sports Industry Group (CSIG) and Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) – was initially supposed to happen in China, but moved to New Zealand due to the pandemic. There were 19 entries from 13 countries.
The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Team Agiplast had entered the Youth America’s Cup for the first time and they were aiming for a podium finish. The organisers of the team hoped that a medal would inspire a step change in local sailing ambitions and encourage more young sailors to stay in Hong Kong, rather than moving abroad to study.
Youth America's Cup cancelled due to NZ government immigration rules. Full statement below.Posted by Youth America's Cup on Tuesday, 1 September 2020
A RNZYS press release estimated the event would inject NZ$10 million (HK$52.5 million) into the New Zealand economy.
“The reasons we were given for not getting the immigration clearance required were that MBIE has not invested directly into this event and that New Zealanders could perform the sailing roles for the international teams,” Porter said.
“We are struggling to understand how that is possible as it is an international event and teams have to represent their country. Furthermore, it came at no cost to the government at a time where New Zealand needs this type of event and investment.”