SHARE
At issue: Former America's Cup trial yacht, NZL 14

By PHILIP CHANDLER

An Aucklander who five years ago bought a former America’s Cup trial yacht, NZL 14, which still languishes in Queenstown Bay, continues to challenge Queenstown council’s
attempts to dispose of it.

The council last month called for expressions of interest to remove the yacht.

By deadline, at least 14 parties had registered their interest.

Council went through the process after deciding the yacht was ‘abandoned’ under the Maritime Transport Act 1994, allegedly on the grounds its mooring fees hadn’t been
paid.

Auckland’s Geoff Hunt bought the yacht in 2017, seven years after it had last been used to sail tourists around Lake Whakatipu, with the intention of using it to teach
disadvantaged youth to sail.

A year later, he put ownership of the yacht into a company, NZL 14 Youth Aid Ltd.

Last month, he wrote to the council’s regulatory manager, Anthony Hall, reiterating the company owned the yacht, rather than him personally.

He tells Hall council had ignored this ‘‘and continued to pursue me through the court for the payment of mooring fees which have never been invoiced to the owner of the  vessel’’.

‘‘I wish to advise that the NZL 14 Youth Aid Foundation is willing to pay the reasonable charges for mooring in Queenstown Bay provided all action taken by council against me
personally is dropped.

‘‘I must also advise that I am taking legal advice relating to defamation over the recent publicity which is factually incorrect and damaging to my reputation.’’

Hunt also tells Mountain Scene he doesn’t accept the yacht’s abandoned because he’s had someone look after it.

His letter to Hall reveals he’s also applied for resource consent to move the yacht to Frankton Arm, ‘‘which would have solved the ongoing problem’’, however he says it wasn’t processed because of an opposing submission from local iwi.

Council boss Mike Theelen says ‘‘we’ve had a long-running engagement with this gentleman, and we’ve endeavoured to get him to comply’’.

‘‘He’s failed consistently to do so.

“Council’s been to the courts and are taking the action it’s taking, and really if he wishes to challenge that, that’s certainly his right to do so, but we won’t be commenting on that.”

scoop@scene.co.nz