ETNZ Sponsor Sees Tough Road Ahead

A supporter of Team New Zealand Cup Challenges and Defenses since 1990, Toyota New Zealand CEO Bob Field thinks thinks winning this Cup will be the hardest yet.

June 21, 2007


Chris Cameron/etnz

One of the main sponsors of Emirates Team New Zealand believes the team will have to be much better than any of its predecessors if it is to win the 32nd America’s Cup Match. Bob Field, chairman of Toyota New Zealand, says the current defender is significantly stronger than Denis Conner’s cash-strapped Stars and Stripes which was beaten by New Zealand in 1995. “When you look at the money behind the syndicates now, and the demands of all the Acts in the lead up and the advantage that the defender has given itself through the new rules, this is a real tough proposition,” Mr Field says. However, having been involved in five consecutive events, Bob Field says “to my mind this team is the best focussed and with the best team culture of all those campaigns.” “What’s clear in most America’s Cup campaigns that fail is that the teamwork implodes when the team comes under pressure. This team is well prepared for the pressures that will come.” He attributes that readiness in part to the opportunity created by the ‘disastrous’ defeat in 2003. That gave the team “a clean sheet of paper to focus on the mission and create a momentum and I believe this team is peaking just at the right time.” “Key factors in that change have been the leadership of Grant Dalton and the great stewardship behind the scenes of Kevin Shoebridge and the very astute appointments that they have made to key positions with a mind to team culture and continuous improvement.”Already, Mr Field believes, Emirates Team New Zealand has done enough to ensure that New Zealand has a future in the America’s Cup. “If we’d been knocked out in the semis I believe it would have been very hard to find the support to continue. To keep New Zealand’s flag in this event we’ve got to do well and we’ve done well so far but we’ve got one more step to go.”Grant Dalton acknowledges that Toyota has been a significant factor in New Zealand’s long term participation in the event. “Toyota has been a tremendous supporter of the team over many years, through good times and bad.”They’ve helped ensure our viability when everything threatened to fall apart. Bob himself has been a great friend to the team and we value his business experience when it comes to running a large and complex project like this.”The benefits run both ways Mr Field says. Toyota New Zealand funded its support for the first three campaigns itself, but for the last two as the cost of mounting a campaign rose significantly, Japan has come to the party.”That is in recognition of the global branding exposure provided by participating with distinction in the America’s Cup,” he says. “We believe that it enhances New Zealand’s global reputation and awareness more than any other sporting event. “It says something about our boat building, about our design, our technology and our ability to coordinate a complex set of resources to put a successful boat into the competition.” The company believes Cup participation is also important for the sport of sailing in New Zealand, and links its Cup sponsorship to “grass roots” sailing with support for Yachting New Zealand and the Optimist National Championships. Toyota also profiles Emirates Team New Zealand members in its “Everyday People” television advertising campaign, to counter allegations that the sport is elitist. “Team members are everyday people,” he says, “they’re not prima donnas. And as long as the country can stay involved in the America’s Cup it’s something that every young yachtie can aspire to.”


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