The increasing importance of the Middle East to professional sailing sponsorship has been highlighted again with the announcement of Emirates Airlines continued support for Team New Zealand. Emirates Team New Zealand, with the backing of the Dubai based airline will challenge for the 34th America’s Cup, the final of which will be held in San Francisco in 2013. The announcement coincided with the launch of the team’s twin hulled AC45.
Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, his Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said the airline was continuing its support of Emirates Team New Zealand because the yacht racing team had consistently proven itself both as a top competitor and brand-builder. He said:
“The decision also underlines our commitment to New Zealand at a time when the country is demonstrating its own strengths and resilience in the face of adversity. Whether it be the America’s Cup, the MedCup or the Louis Vuitton Trophy series, Emirates Team New Zealand has shown the fighting spirit and inspiration for which the country is renowned. We are very pleased to continue our support of Emirates Team New Zealand.”
Sheikh Ahmed outlined some of the factors that make America’s Cup sponsorship and particularly backing of Team New Zealand a good investment. He said:
“Exposure for Emirates through the team and its global reach has helped put the airline on the map in many parts of the world and with many audiences. We hope there is now the chance of building further on this excellent foundation. The features we saw in the team when we first backed it in 2004 are still there. As an award-winning airline, we can relate to its drive, focus, competitiveness and desire for excellence in all aspects of its operation.”
Emirates Team New Zealand Managing Director Grant Dalton said:
“We have made considerable progress because the Emirates Team New Zealand brand is an international leader, well recognised in the sport. Emirates Airline has been with the team since 2004 and their decision to stay with us is important. We are fortunate to have such loyal and committed sponsors.”
Dalton acknowledged that many sponsors and suppliers supported the team through a period when the America’s Cup was at its lowest. Brands including Emirates, Toyota New Zealand, a sponsor for 20 years, and Omega, a sponsor for 18 years – stood by the team between the end of the 32nd America’s Cup at Valencia in 2007, through the lamentable Deed of Gift saga between Alinghi and BMW ORACLE and allowed the team to stay together in series like the Audi Med Cup.
Dalton said the team would make a further announcement on its involvement in the 2013 America’s Cup in a couple of months.
“In the meantime we are developing the sailing team; the design team is working through concepts for the AC72 catamaran and we are continuing meeting with several potential sponsors.”