With the Prada Cup regatta starting today, to decide who will challenge TeamNZ in March for The America's Cup, we're re-upping this piece from last November about who's who in the big-money quest to hold sport's oldest trophy:
The biggest prize in yachting has always been backed by big bucks.

Previous America’s Cup funders have ranged from the new tech money of Oracle’s Larry Ellison to old school bankers such as J Piermont Morgan.

Media mogul Ted Turner of CNN fame, Scottish businessman and tea magnate Thomas Lipton and Swiss biotech entrepreneur Ernesto Bertarelli have been other big names behind the cup.

America's Cup great Dennis Conner has estimated a syndicate needs at least $200 million to really compete in the new monohull foils which are to be raced at next year’s event.   

A lack of funding has already taken its toll on two challengers for the 36th America’s Cup next year. In May Pasquale Cataldi declared Maltus Altus would not compete in the event. Local media reported the syndicate could not secure funding from the Maltese government. In July, DutchSail said it didn’t have enough time to raise money.   

Here are the big-name backers behind the existing contenders.

Luna Rossa Challenge

Jimmy Spithall-helmed Luna Rossa Challenge is backed by Prada boss Patrizio Bertelli, who is estimated by Forbes to be worth US$3.6 billion. The clothing house, which was founded by his wife Miuccia Prada’s grandfather, promised €65 million euros over four years back in 2018.

International tyre company Pirelli, better known for Formula 1 sponsorship, is also backing the Italian syndicate. The Chinese-owned, Milan headquartered firm had backed Team NZ at the last event when it beat Team USA and the Italians were not in contention.

American Magic

The US team with New Zealand’s Dean Barker at the helm is backed by race car entrepreneur Roger Penske, who is valued at US$1.8 billion by Forbes. His company Penske Automotive Group is best known for its auto dealerships and yellow rental trucks.

But he’s not the only formidable backer, American Magic also has funding from former Amway chair Doug DeVos, who also happens to own its sailmaker Quantum Sails.

Corporate sponsors include BMW, Norwegian clothing brand Helly Hansen, engineering parts maker Parker Hannifin. 



Petrochemicals manufacturer INEOS is the big sponsor of the British sailing team, with 110 million pounds committed in 2018. INEOS was founded by Jim Ratcliffe, one of the UK’s richest men with a fortune of US$17.8 billion.  

Team UK's Ben Ainslie, the world’s most decorated Olympic sailor, said he didn't know Ratcliffe was the UK's richest man when he met him for a beer. 

"But I'd read about his exploits as an adventurer going to both Poles and taking part in crazy full-on marathons across deserts. I knew he had an interest in sailing so we got together for a chat and that got to talking about the America's Cup,” Ainslie told CNN.

The syndicate had been funded by Carphone Warehouse retailer Charles Dunstone, estimated to be worth US$1.1 billion by Forbes, and loyalty card mogul Keith Mills.

Team NZ

As a government department review recently found, there has been difficulty separating Team NZ from its event arm America’s Cup Event. The latter has been promised $40 million in government funding for the event. 

How much funding Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton has raised from private supporters is unclear, although the team has traditionally had a raft of corporate sponsors rather than a private individual. 

This year, Emirates, Omega, Toyota, Spark, Genesis, Steinlager, HP and SkyCity are among the big names involved. 

Swiss-Italian businessman Matteo de Nora has been a long time backer of the syndicate. According to some sources he has "almost entirely funded the existence of Emirates Teams New Zealand since 2007." 

However, he is of millionaire not billionaire status unlike his rivals. 

Similarly, the Warehouse Group founder Stephen Tindall has been a long time supporter of the team. 

Dalton’s dual role as chief executive of Team NZ and the event arm America’s Cup Event, which is receiving tens of millions in government funding, has come under scrutiny. 

The yachtsman has said Team NZ’s budget will be about half of INEOS and other rivals, and 60 percent of an America’s Cup team’s costs is people on the payroll, but Team NZ staff accept lower salaries. Its not clear how much helmsman Peter Burling is paid but his sailing riches were enough for the 29-year-old to purchase a Ponsonby villa worth $3.4 million in May this year.  

Stars + Stripes USA 

Mystery surrounds whether the second US team Stars + Stripes USA will even be competing in the America’s Cup come March. 

The team, helmed by Taylor Canfield and based on the US West Coast, has only announced a clothing sponsor in US apparel maker Musto, and a broadcast deal with Conde Nast Entertainment. It failed to pay an entry fee to complete in pre-tournament races, but hasn’t yet conceded it won’t come.