I read a news report this week that described Mark Dunphy, the rich lister who claims he has the funds to stage the defence of the America’s Cup in NZ, as being “the media-shy former Fay Richwhite executive with a reputation for ruthless commercial dealings”.

It helped answer one of the questions that has been hanging over this odd, last minute bid to take over the 37th Defence of The America’s Cup ever since I first read about it.  

Why is someone who has never shown an interest in the America’s Cup in the past or, as far as I can tell, demonstrated a desire to stage anything in the country driven by a patriotic sense of “let’s do this for New Zealand”, now putting himself forward as the white knight addressing the “elephant in the room” - Grant Dalton?

Dalton, the man who brought the cup home from Bermuda, without the benefit of any government funding, and who made sure that the coverage of the event was shared with the country on free-to-air television because “this was New Zealand’s Cup and everyone had a right to watch it.”

It may seem like a small thing but I was involved in those discussions and Dalton was adamant that the days of Kiwis paying to watch the cup were over. Not only was it free on broadcast television, it was also free on all mobile platforms as well, something that had not been the case for years. 

The “elephant in the room” that Dunphy should be referring to is not Grant Dalton.

The elephant in the room is the enormous value that lies in the intellectual property that sits behind that great flying machine called Te Rehutai.

I recall when Dalton first proposed a foiling monohull, sceptics across the world claimed it would never fly.

The defender of record, Prada, fought to have the idea dropped in favour of a traditional monohull. But Dalton and Team NZ stuck to their guns and we all saw the stunning result of their vision and the unwavering belief in kiwi ingenuity and innovation to do something that the world said was impossible.

So there is an alternative context for the “open discussion” that Dunphy claims he wants to have.

Auld Mug goes F-1?

Of course, there is the question of holding an event in Auckland because it’s the right thing to do. But there is also the question of how you value the intellectual property (IP) that Dalton and his previous backers created - with zero investment by Dunphy or any of his unnamed backers. 

This asset got significantly more valuable as soon as it was announced that the foiling monohulls will contest the next three America’s Cups - a move that finally may have shifted the Auld Mug into the realm of Formula One, one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. 

The idea of a foiling monohull was conceived, created and delivered by Dalton and his incredible design team. The reason Te Rehutai is locked away on the Auckland waterfront is because much of her success still remains a closely guarded secret from any future challengers. This IP is the most important asset that Dalton has to protect and it is why he needs to move quickly to secure the design team that carries all of that knowledge. 

I am no expert in the corporate dealings that Dunphy was involved in in the past but this certainly appears to fit the business model of a corporate takeover.

Not only does he pick up the valuable IP for free, he has also made it a condition of his deal that those who paid for the creation of that IP do not get any of their money back either. 

So yes - Mark - “Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room - let’s talk about it.” 

But you are fast running out of time because there are multi-billionaires with far more money than you will ever be likely to raise and they are already lined up waiting to see if Dalton can hold this team together. Your last minute, detail-free bid has not helped. 

Republished with the author's permission from LinkedIn.