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Website story by Eleisha McNeill
Sir Stephen Tindall and fellow patron Matteo de Nora have, for many years, helped keep Emirates Team New Zealand afloat. Eleisha McNeill finds out why.
If you’re a child of the 1980s, you might remember singing along to Sailing Away, the television ad designed to get Kiwis behind Louis Vuitton Cup challenger boat KZ7.
You’ll likely also remember the disappointment when KZ7 lost. After that defeat, the team regrouped under Sir Peter Blake, who led Team New Zealand to challenge for the 1995 America’s Cup.
Blake also brought on a new supporter, who would go on to be one of the saviours of the team’s future racing challenges.
Businessman and chairman of The Warehouse retail chain Sir Stephen Tindall sponsored a genoa sail for the 1995 challenge, then went to San Diego to watch the racing. “I became very excited about New Zealand winning the America’s Cup that year,” he says.
He’s been a loyal supporter and benefactor ever since.
Over the years. Tindall and fellow patron, Swiss Italian businessman Matteo de Nora, have jointly invested their personal wealth to make sure Team New Zealand continues to be able to race. Neither will say how much they’ve given.
Tindall says he has been driven to support the team because of the economic benefits the Auld Mug brings to the country.
“The financial value of the Cup to New Zealand and Auckland is huge,” he says. “It basically rebuilt downtown Auckland for the 2000 defence.”
After that successful defence, key team members left, and Team New Zealand fell apart, resulting in New Zealand losing the Cup in 2003. Benefactors Tindall and de Nora remained loyal as Grant Dalton took over the team.
Out-flagging the opposition
Tindall’s belief in and support of the team has never wavered. For both the 2007 Valencia and 2013 San Francisco campaigns, Tindall had 10,000 flags made and transported to the Cup villages to ‘out-flag’ the opposition. Despite the visibility of the New Zealand supporters, the team lost both challenges.
Despite the losses, Tindall joined the Board of Emirates Team New Zealand in 2014 and became its chairman shortly after. He describes his elation after the team took back the Cup in 2017.
“It felt fantastic. All those years of backing them in Valencia, San Francisco and then Bermuda finally came to fruition,” he said.
Why stay loyal?
Speaking to Newstalk ZB shortly after the race, he explained his approach to investing. “I didn’t look at the risk of investing [in Team New Zealand]. What I invest in with my dividends from the Warehouse Group are ideas – it’s in people, it’s in tech, and it’s all the things I think make New Zealand great,” he said.
“I don’t always look at them from a pure financial perspective or a return on investment. I look at them on a basis of how can they make our country grow and be better.”
Tindall has taken a year-long leave of absence from the Warehouse Group to focus on his role with Team New Zealand.
“The main support I’m giving at the moment is assisting in securing the right infrastructure for the 2021 defence,” he says.