After waiting a nail-biting few hours, Napier Sailing Club were today told they won’t be hosting the 2011 America’s Cup.
Speaking in an exclusive cell-phone interview from his private jet, Alinghi syndicate boss, Ernesto Bertarelli, announced the 33rd America’s Cup will instead take place in Southland – hosted by The Bluff Yacht Club.
Too distraught to comment this evening, Napier Sailing Club’s publicity officer, Lyle Tresadern, issued a statement saying the club is “in mourning”.
Bertarelli made the decision even more difficult to accept after confirming Napier was the front-runner to host sailing’s most prestigious prize, before an incident just minutes away from landing at Hawke’s Bay Airport changed his mind. “It was a moment of disbelief really. My pilot informed me we were denied clearance to land at Napier Airport – something about the runway not being jet compatible,” Bertarelli said. “So we flew in a holding pattern for a few moments, and it dawned on me that with the scores of tourists inevitably attracted to the regatta, I simply couldn’t, in good conscience, approve of a Hawke’s Bay hosted competition where the host city’s infrastructure wasn’t up to international standard. And to boot, I had my heart set on staying somewhere on the Cape, yet after a quick flyover I couldn’t see any lodge or other suitable accommodation.”
In stark contrast to despondent reaction here in the Bay, Invercargill Mayor, Tim Shadbolt, told BayBuzz this was the southern-most city’s finest hour. “I feel for Hawke’s Bay,” he said, “jet-lagged as they are. I guess Bertarelli has indicated his preference for [Bluff] oysters, over wine.”