By NZherald

It is a little over two months since Emirates Team New Zealand won the America's Cup.

The joy which greeted the decisive victory by Peter Burling's crew on Bermuda's Great
Sound lasted while the trophy was taken around the country on a triumphant tour. But now the excitement has dimmed it is time for some hard decisions.

The next regatta is the 2021 defence. It is not yet confirmed where the races will be held, but it is likely to be Auckland.

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The city has less than two years to prepare for the arrival of challenging syndicates determined to capture yachting's greatest prize. It is not a lot of time.

At this point there is no home for the contenders though there are several options along the city's waterfront. Auckland Council has started urgent work to find a suitable location and, it emerged this week, create an "infrastructure legacy" for the city. That requirement may complicate the job and add unnecessary costs to a project facing mounting time pressure.

The prime requirement for the yachts is waterside space. If 10 syndicates come as much as 30,000 sq m will be needed. The Wynyard Point area has room, though the location is compromised by the presence of large fuel tanks.

The so-called tank farm is scheduled for removal when leases expire, many between 2022 and 2026. The timing means limited ground would be available for the 2021 regatta, though some additional space could exist near Beaumont St in the Wynyard Quarter precinct.

This area is handy to Westhaven Marina, where marine infrastructure is well established, and to the lively Jellicoe St area.

Another option is an extension to Halsey Wharf, which would mean some Waitemata Harbour reclamation. But this alternative, which has figured in long-term harbourside plans, would require significant investment for a cash-strapped council faced with a lot of competing claims for public funding.

Heading east along the waterfront, Captain Cook Wharf appeals as a flat structure which could support some of the syndicates. But it does not appear large enough to host all the bases, which means cup crews would bookend the harbour front and make managing the event more challenging.

Regatta traffic would crowd around two areas of the waterfront where congestion is already often a nightmare. This creates problems for the public wanting to get as close as possible to the spectacle.

The council should consider the suggestions of the lobby group Stop Stealing Our Harbour which fought against Ports of Auckland expansion plans. The group suggests up to eight cup bases could stretch along a planned breakwater extension of the Westhaven marina. The group argues the driving principles should be cost and protection of the harbour from further encroachment.

Mayor Phil Goff has rightly stressed that the council does not have unlimited funds to spend on a sailing contest. The council is to get "evidence-based" advice by the end of the month for a decision on the bases. That decision needs to be both affordable and appealing.