NZ's next America's Cup defence still a mystery

Source: 1News

Exactly one year ago, the country was celebrating the successful defence of the America's Cup by Team New Zealand.

A year on Kiwi sailing fans still have no idea where the next defence will be despite decision deadline fast approaching in two weeks.

So is it Spain? Saudi Arabia? Or is there still faint hope of another New Zealand-based campaign?

Despite the glorious scenes of Te Rehutai beating Luna Rossa to reclaim the Auld Mug in Auckland, America's Cup insider Magnus Wheatley told 1News it might be several years before Kiwis witness a defence again first hand.

"I think it's inevitable a venue in Europe will be announced in two weeks," Wheatley said.

Wheatley believes Barcelona or Malaga in Spain are on the table with Middle Eastern backers.

"There's a great saying in the America's Cup - follow the money," he said.

Some insiders have suggested to 1News Team New Zealand needs the big money to match the other powerhouse entries such as Alinghi and INEOS Team UK and their key sponsors want the next Cup in Europe.

Despite that, Sailing Illustrated founder and editor Tom Ehman said an overseas regatta is still the wrong option.

"The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron needs to grow a pair and get serious about keeping the Cup in Auckland.

"It can be funded, and probably more easily funded, in New Zealand… if this goes offshore, the chances of it ever coming back are slim to none."

Ehman believes Jeddah in Saudi Arabia has an open chequebook, but can no longer be an option either.

"They beheaded 81 people last weekend, come on," he said.

"God forbid this Cup goes there [Team New Zealand boss] Grant Dalton and the squadron sign a deal - it will be an international disaster."

The clock is ticking towards a crucial decision for Team New Zealand's future but the crew remains tight-lipped, saying they won't comment during the selection process.