A proposal for the 36th America’s Cup match in Auckland, New Zealand is stirring controversy. If approved, it will require America’s Cup superyacht observers of the race to pay anchoring fees. This, despite yachts being free to anchor any other time.
According to a few media reports, the Auckland Council is weighing the proposal. Specifically, America’s Cup superyacht visitors with yachts 131 feet (40 meters) and larger would pay NZ$23 (US$16, at press time) per meter, per day. In addition, the fee would hold for the duration of the event.
The New Zealand Herald quotes a councilmember, Chris Darby, as saying the America’s Cup superyacht fee would prevent local taxpayers from absorbing all harbormaster costs. “At the moment, the existing Auckland ratepayer is underwriting the cost of the Harbour Master’s service,” he explains. “We’re looking to make that right.” Darby adds that the harbormaster staff, which works on behalf of the Council, “undertakes a range of services which we’re not currently recovering from those that benefit from those services.” Currently, no foreign vessels—including superyachts and cargo ships—need pay any fee if they anchor out in Hauraki Gulf.
Despite being in favor of the fee, Darby does offer a limitation. “It is specifically aimed at those who actually require the Harbor Master to do extra work,” he tells the newspaper. The Council wants to be “pragmatic,” he says. It does not intend to charge owners who might also have paid for a berth elsewhere during the America’s Cup.
Regardless, according to Radio New Zealand, not everyone is in favor of it. “It’s open ocean,” Chris Dickson, a veteran America’s Cup captain, tells the station. “What on earth is the council doing even suggesting charging users to anchor their boats?” In addition, he believes the council will ultimately charge New Zealanders, too.
Interestingly, the Auckland Council may put the proposal out for public commentary. In the meantime, Radio New Zealand further quotes Darby as asserting the fee is minor for “oligarchs that might be coming down from the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, or wherever.”