America's Cup challengers Stars and Stripes Team USA look in doubt once again, with Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton describing their opponents as "hurt" and "struggling".

Stars and Stripes hit out against claims they would be withdrawing their challenge from the 36th America's Cup due to funding issues last month.

They made clear their intentions to contest for the Auld Mug in Auckland in 2021 in a statement which said they had "not withdrawn and had no plans to do so".

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However, speaking on the Mike Hosking Breakfast, Dalton said he didn't have high hopes the US team would survive the financial hit of Covid-19.

"I know that the yard that was building their boat was commandeered to build PPE and that's hurt them," Dalton said. "I'm not sure at this point whether it's been released to go back to the building of the boat, but they're struggling.

"I wouldn't rate them as a high chance."

Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield, co-founders of Stars and Stripes Team USA. Photo / Photosport
Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield, co-founders of Stars and Stripes Team USA. Photo / Photosport

The America's Cup World Series has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with only the third and final regatta scheduled for Auckland in December still on the cards.

It's meant teams will only have one opportunity to scope out the competition.

Dalton said it was "absolutely critical" for Team New Zealand that the Auckland regatta went ahead.

"That's our only chance to get a look at our opposition," Dalton said.

Emirates Team New Zealand's Te Aihe, sailing through the Waitemata Harbour. Photo / Photosport
Emirates Team New Zealand's Te Aihe, sailing through the Waitemata Harbour. Photo / Photosport

"We need that regatta. We didn't put ourselves in the challenger rounds like Oracle did last time to keep an eye on everybody to see if they were faster, we frankly don't believe that is the right way that the Cup should be run so this will be our only way of seeing where we check-in."

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Dalton admitted significant building time had been lost during the lockdown but have secured a number of extra hands courtesy of redundancies elsewhere.

"We've been able to pick up other boat builders from within the industry because now the industry is hurt like all industries and we've been able to offer them jobs," he said.

"That's upped our labour force and kept them employed to get the boat back on schedule."

Dalton said he believed next year's America's Cup would be won by the team best able to adapt to the current global situation, with high hopes around Team New Zealand's ability to do so.

"Sport is about winning and losing and being able to adapt," he said. "Because of Covid-19 and the disruption of all teams, the team that can adapt, keep its feet on the ground, its head out of the clouds and not panic is going to do the best.

"As Kiwis, we are quite good at that. Team New Zealand has been damn good at that."

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