Americas Cup

So let’s host the America’s Cup from scratch under just one year?

The Challenge

When Team New Zealand temporarily won the America’s Cup in a court case after the 1988 mismatch between its Big Boat and San Diego’s Stars and Stripes catamaran, the country faced the prospect of not being able to host the global event if the cup were held after an appeal.

Fifteen agencies of state and six local bodies had a hand in deciding on any project which crossed Auckland’s high tide lines.

The Solution

As lead Parliamentary Secretary in charge of Government’s America’s Cup policy, Graeme Colman planned and executed a successful effort to make sure the country was ready.

He led the effort to secure Cabinet funding for an America’s Cup scoping study. From this arose a report on the law changes New Zealand would need if Auckland were to host the cup event on 12 months’ notice, under the cup’s Deed of Gift.

Graeme led and coordinated work on setting up the America’s Cup Office in Auckland; appointing Public Relations consultants; leading and coordinating work for special fast-track America’s Cup Planning legislation (and its later repeal); select committee hearings, Parliamentary debates; liaison with Local Government, private sector, cup syndicates and local communities.

The Business Difference

A unanimous free vote in Parliament saw the passing of special planning legislation, allowing quicker approvals for vital cup facilities. It took just six weeks from its private drafting to signature by the Governor General.

In the end, New Zealand lost the cup at court. But some major facilities developed as a result of the special cup planning law were used when the country won the cup several years later.


Working with a team at merchant bank Fay Richwhite Graeme Colman helped deliver an official launch of the 90ft K-boat challenger at Auckland, attracting 150,000 people; and broadcast to hundreds of millions live in six countries.

Working with media in San Diego he helped serve 1200 registered media who were focused on just two syndicates in this event. He helped established radio, television and photo studios and transmission facilities at the Kiwi dock. The campaign’s media work achieved 3.2 million print exposures per week in the final month of the campaign on a budget of US$8.5 million.

Before the 1988 challenge, Graeme conceived of and directed the 1987 nationwide ‘fax attack’ on Perth in support of the New Zealand Challenge for the America’s Cup. 300,000 people signed support faxes at Post Offices nationwide in three days, emerging at Fremantle on 10 kilometers of fax paper.

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