Team New Zealand received a boost today with lead sponsor Emirates confirming its continued support through to the next America's Cup yachting competition.
The announcement gives Team NZ stability against the background of uncertainty over the timing of the next regatta because of ongoing court action and the present turmoil in world stock markets.
Emirates' group services president Gary Chapman said the Dubai-based airline's commitment to the team would be "to a higher level" than before.
He said the decision to continue its sponsorship was taken some time ago.
"We had a handshake on it well over a year ago," he said in Auckland.
"We've chosen to announce it today because there is a lot going on out there."
Emirates began sponsoring Team NZ in 2004 and Chapman said the syndicate's performance in Valencia last year, when they made it to the decider with Swiss defenders Alinghi, had made them "feel very good" about their involvement.
"We are believers in the team and Grant and the people that have made Team NZ such a brand and such a successful competitor."
Dalton said the syndicate was grateful for the continued support "through the smoke and the flames and the mist we live in a little bit at the moment".
He said it gave the team certainty for the future.
The next cup regatta, originally slated for next year, remains in limbo while the legal standoff between Alinghi and American challengers Oracle rolls on.
Oracle yesterday began its last-chance appeal in New York state to become the "challenger of record" and help to set the rules for the next event.
It argues that the Spanish yacht club that Alinghi chose as challenger of record is a sham and the rules proposed by the Swiss are tilted in defenders' favour.
Team NZ also announced today that it would compete in the Med Cup TP52 circuit next year.
TP52s are 52-foot (16m) high performance monohulls with a crew of 15.
Construction of a new TP52, to be called Emirates Team New Zealand, began in Auckland last month.
It is due to be launched in February and shipped to Europe in mid-March.
The project is being funded by Emirates and Swiss-Italian millionaire businessman Matteo de Nora, who was also a backer of the Team NZ for their 2007 campaign.
Skipper Dean Barker said the TP52 circuit was one of the most competitive in the world and was the next logical step for the syndicate in America's Cup preparations.
He said the circuit, which had been going for three years, had become the top-end of keelboat racing outside the America's Cup.
The TP52 was still a development class and competing in the Med Cup would give Team NZ the chance to optimise every part of the boat's equipment and operation, much like in the America's Cup.
It would also be an opportunity to continue to develop and test the sailing crew.