Superyacht owners could be forced to pay to anchor in prime positions at next America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is arguably the biggest event in sailing, and yacht owners and charter guests have always been able to enjoy prime positions to watch the action – but the next edition, in New Zealand, could pack a contentious change.

The local council in Auckland is considering charging fees for vessels anchoring outside of marinas and ports in any of the city’s navigable waters, such as the nearby ocean, with the charge to be implemented ahead of the prestigious competition in 2021. Superyachts could be charged up to NZ$23 per metre, per day – this means that a 50-metre (164-foot) yacht could end up accruing costs of $1,150 a day to anchor in the New Zealand waters.

The fee would only apply to foreign-registered vessels above 40 metres in length. It would also cover cargo ships and cruise liners which are unable to moor the wharves.

Former America’s Cup skipper Chris Dickson has criticised the move. "It's open ocean,” he said. “What on earth is the council doing even suggesting charging users to anchor their boats?"

He also suggested that the council would eventually extend the policy to New Zealand nationals.

Currently, boats anchored at sea do not have to pay anything for any length of stay. Fees only apply for yachts berthed at public or private facilities.

Auckland councillor Chris Darby argued that the new fees would help fund safety services and navigational aids in the area.

"I think the public are going to be very surprised that we don't already charge for superyachts and we don't already charge for cargo ships that are moored in public waters," he said, adding that the fee would be essentially inconsequential to “oligarchs that might be coming down from the Mediterranean, the Bahamas, or wherever.”

The proposed fee is likely to be put to public consultation after a council meeting.

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