America’s Cup could next be Gisborne’s Cup
AMERICA'S Cup racing could be coming to Turanganaui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay.
A Saudi Arabian syndicate plans to enter the Challenger Series for the next America's Cup, and has submitted a proposal for Gisborne to be its base.
Team Sahara are being bankrolled by billionaire Saudi Sheikh Egabrag Fodaol.
Fodoal is known for his extravagant and sometimes eccentric behaviour.
A huge fan of 1980s American TV series, he has an extensive collection of memorabilia, including the Pacific Princess cruise ship from the series The Love Boat, the Ferrari used in Magnum PI and the plane from Fantasy Island.
He also owns the copyright to phrases such as “Nanu nanu” (Mork and Mindy), “Pity the fool” (Mr T from The A Team) and “What you talkin' ‘bout Willis?” (Different Strokes).
“The sheikh came across coverage of the America's Cup while channel surfing in his personal movie theatre at his oasis in Parcrettu,” said a Team Sahara spokesperson.
“He was transfixed. He couldn't get enough of it. He loved everything about it.
“He started walking around the palace chanting ‘the America's Cup is still New Zealand's cup' then, after pausing to take a sip from his sparkling water fountain, whispered to himself ‘the America's Cup is now Saudi Arabia's Cup'.”
The Sheikh has enlisted the help of a group of international sailors willing to betray their countries and sell themselves off to the highest bidder, and the finest yachting engineers his money can buy.
To add an air of mystery to their campaign, Team Sahara are keen to set up away from Auckland's Viaduct and have targeted Gisborne's inner harbour and Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay as their training and testing ground.
They want Gisborne Tatapouri Sports Fishing Club to be their base and have proposed to set up a giant marquee for club members on Adventure Playground over the duration of their campaign.
To enhance this offer, the sheik will bump the Tata's weekly membership draw night prize to $10,000.
“The sheikh is a bit of a showman,” said Team Sahara communications adviser Kcorc Athaw.
“He wants to bring The Pacific Princess to the bay and use it as an on-the-water stadium for locals to view the action.
“After hearing of a few issues in the inner harbour, he will also install a bombing platform on the upper deck. That's a drop of about 72 metres to the ocean below, which should make for some mean splashes.”
To mark the arrival of Team Sahara, a team of trained dolphins and the penguins from hit movie Madagascar will put on a show in the inner harbour with music by the Sheikh's favourite artist, Celine Dion, who will perform the theme tune to Titanic from a special stage on the prow of The Pacific Princess as she sails into the bay.
The Team Sahara proposal will be heard at a Gisborne District Council meeting before going out for public consultation.