Listen to the audio above as Radio Sport yachting commentator PJ Montgomery speaks to Radio Sport Breakfast
Rising tensions between America's Cup defenders Team New Zealand and Challenger of Record Luna Rossa seem to have cooled following a protocol announcement on Tuesday.
As reported by the Herald, the two camps weren't exactly seeing eye-to-eye over a few issues for the 2021 America's Cup event, however, a meeting in Auckland last week should put those differences to bed.
The teams have reached "an agreement to resolve a series of issues in the best interest of the event" a statement said today.
Team New Zealand and Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada Group and Chairman of the Challenger of Record, mutually agreed on a settlement to the America's Cup Arbitration case filed on February 12 regarding the dispute on the validity of late entries.
Up to three of the six challengers for the 2021 America's Cup in Auckland were the target of legal action heard by the Cup's arbitration panel. The Herald previously reported the case involved late payments by up to three teams — certainly the Dutch challenge, possibly that of Malta and even the American Stars & Stripes syndicate.
The change means teams that filed late entries, have been given the chance to pay the US1m late fee in two instalments.
Instead of US$1m needed to be paid in one go, it can be paid over two instalments - NZ$250,000 by April 1 and $750,000 by October 1.
"The settlement therefore clears the way for the Defender and Challenger of Record to continue to work progressively on planning the 36th America's Cup presented by Prada as well as all associated events between now and the end of the event in March 2021," a statement read.
"It is no secret there have been some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved, but the fact that Mr. Bertelli took the time to personally come down to Auckland is testament of the mutual respect between us, which bodes well for the event in general," Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said.
"The path is therefore now clear for the late entries to continue building their respective campaigns to try to participate and the Defender and Challenger of Record will give whatever support they can."
The Herald stated last year that the announcement of the Dutch challenge may be the first real test of the relationship between Team New Zealand and Prada.
"While the defender has an obvious motivation for allowing another challenger entry, Prada (and other challengers, come to that) has an equally obvious incentive to decline. Why would a competitor spending mega-bucks on an America's Cup challenge open the door for someone who could potentially beat them to challenge the defender?"
At that time, only the Dutch challenge seemed in question – but if the case in point is late payment fees, perhaps spread over a period longer than foreseen in the protocol, that could take the wind from the sails of Malta and Stars & Stripes. Both syndicates were rumoured to have a job to do to raise all the money needed for the challenge when they entered ahead of the late entry deadline.
The six challengers so far are: Prada, Ineos UK, Stars & Stripes, American Magic, Malta Altus and the Dutch.