Previous SuperyachtNews coverage questioned whether the COVID-19 pandemic would have a significant impact on superyacht attendance for the 36th America’s Cup, set to take place from 6 to 21 March, 2021 in Auckland. With New Zealand's borders closed since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been concerns as to whether foreign vessels would be allowed entry into the country in time for the event. 

The New Zealand government recently announced a new provision that allows for vessels, including superyachts, booked in for repair or refit works in the country to apply to enter the country’s maritime borders. “Currently the applications to enter through our maritime borders is for a compelling need for refit and repair,” explains Duthie Lidgard, managing director of Catalano Shipping Services NZ.

“We have been successful with the applications for five vessels to date and another eight applications are currently awaiting approval, which we are expecting in the coming weeks. Currently, we are fielding so many new requests from yachts looking at getting to New Zealand to escape Europe and we are working on their arrival plans and approval options.”

“Currently, we are fielding so many new requests from yachts looking at getting to New Zealand to escape Europe and we are working on their arrival plans and approval options.”

The refit and repair exemption was activated in July 2020, with the first superyacht making use of it S/Y Marie, for a scheduled refit approved on 27 July. The operative word in the provision is ‘compelling’ – the bar to qualify for an exemption has been set high to avoid creating an unwanted ‘back door’ into New Zealand as many yachts are still keen to visit the country in time for the America's Cup.

“COVID-19 has impacted the globe – we have seen a drop off in yachts coming to New Zealand only because they have been unable to come via other islands as stopovers on the way,” adds Lidgard. “Since French Polynesia opened its borders to visiting yachts and owners, we have seen a surge of interest again due to the America’s Cup.”

But there are still barriers for superyacht owners and guests entering the country, with a mandatory 14-day isolation period on arrival in New Zealand. “There is a substantial effort from both the marine and tourism industries to create a watertight process for HNWI’s to enter New Zealand through private quarantine, which could include a controlled private residence, luxury accommodation or a yacht,” explains Ben Osborne, director of 37South. “We remain optimistic that this will become an option by the end of 2020, allowing sufficient time for travel prior to AC36 racing in January 2021.”

With the America’s Cup happening during New Zealand’s summer months, and with COVID-19 considerations, Lidgard expects superyacht owners and guests to arrive in New Zealand in mid-February 2021, in time to see the Prada Cup Finals finish on 21 February. The Mastercard Superyacht Regatta takes place 23 to 27 February, run by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and then the America’s Cup begins on 6 March, 2021.

The inaugural edition of The Pacific Superyacht Forum will be taking place in June 2021 in Victoria, British Columbia, in partnership with Victoria International Marina. To find out more about the event, please click here.


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