Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commodore Steve Mair has revealed the cloak-and-dagger process involved in accepting an America's Cup challenge.

In the moments leading up to and immediately following Team New Zealand's victory in Bermuda in June, Mair found himself in a James Bond-style covert mission - hidden on a luxury yacht, ignoring his mobile phone and hardly daring to talk to anyone for fear of accidentally receiving a challenge from the wrong suitor, Newsroom reported.

"It was true cloak and dagger stuff, and it was fascinating," Mair told Newsroom. "It was very tense, but it was such a cool thing to be involved in."

Emirates Team NZ and the RNZYS were adamant they wanted to work with the Cicolo della Vela Sicilia yacht club and Luna Rossa syndicate as challengers of record, to decide the rules and format of the next regatta.


To achieve that, the Italians had to be the first to lodge an official challenge within seconds of the final Cup race finishing.

So it was that Mair found himself locked in the yacht belonging to TNZ principal Matteo di Nora, sitting next to Cicolo della Vela Sicilia president Agostino Randazzo, when the Kiwis lifted the Auld Mug.

Crew stood on guard, ordered to kick packages or envelopes overboard if they were thrown aboard.

Back in Auckland, squadron staff were instructed not to accept any documents delivered to their offices, email servers were switched off and phones were left off the hook.

Two seconds after the finish, Mair accepted the challenge.

"I've never had so many Italian man hugs," he said. "I know of two groups that have questioned the validity of the challenge, but we knew we had dotted the 'i's' and crossed the 't's'."

The trophy now sits behind alarmed, bulletproof glass at the squadron's Westhaven headquarters.

Mair holds the key to the safe that holds the key to the case that holds the Cup.