What's really going on with the America's Cup? We asked Chris Rattue eight pressing questions in the build-up to this summer's racing.
How do you rate the America's Cup build-up?
A good seven out of 10, with the boats the stars so far. There have been enough interesting stories and opinions, but it's starting to fade against potential.
The most interesting protagonists are playing it very safe comments-wise. Brad Butterworth has given it a bit of a lash, but when's the last time you heard Jimmy Spithill or Dean Barker say something REALLY interesting. And the Brits appear to be hiding in their hut. It feels very corporate, at odds with the open conflict which once made the America's Cup so great.
There is a lot bubbling away…but below the surface. Maybe that is all about to change.
So come on people. Make some noise, although I suspect Team New Zealand's design dominance is the underlying problem.
What's the real story?
Grant Dalton rubs a lot of people up the wrong way. There are a lot of people who would love to bring him down. But he's holding the trump card. It's called the best boat. That, I suspect, is why it is so quiet out there. Make a fuss and you're likely to get your noses rubbed in it.
Who is going to win the America's Cup?
Team New Zealand will win it easily. Their boat is supreme and the sailors way too good to stuff up that advantage. I make this observation as a confirmed landlubber…but it seems that with these boats-slash-aircrafts a small design edge equals a big distance advantage, which takes any significant chance of a tactical balancing act away.
Who gets the credit if it pans out that way?
Well, he'd get the blame if it went wrong, so team boss Dalton has to get the credit.
But it's the design team, again. TNZ's designers actually did a great job in San Francisco, 2013, but were let down by other parts of the team who gave Oracle just enough catch-up time. They were supreme in Bermuda and have done it again by the looks.
The sailors are barely visible anymore, tucked away in their trenches, which is kind of appropriate.
Some of the great old test pilots used to scoff at the NASA space programme, particularly when they trained chimps to send into space. It was all about the rocket, with the humans acting as a form of advanced auto pilot, and now yachting has its own rocket.
And very impressive rockets these phenomenal foiling machines are, but the human element feels diminished.
This is the equivalent of Mercedes' dominance in Formula One, where credit is slipping away from unbeatable Lewis Hamilton. And just like F1, the people who make the real difference in current America's Cup racing will never be household names.
But the TNZ design team performance is truly amazing, from the concepts to carrying them out.
Where would a massive victory leave TNZ?
Great question. Whatever the result I'm guessing they will break up, with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke going their own way. Dalton will threaten to take the next cup overseas, as he did three years ago, and he may actually do it. Raids will be launched on the victorious team.
Where does that leave Auckland as a venue?
With so many social issues - particularly housing and renting costs - and major transport projects to pay for, it is very hard to keep justifying spending rate and taxpayer money on a one-sided, elitist sports event.
It's just not a good look. Symbolically, something must change.
The council budget on waterfront improvements has already been trimmed at a late stage because of Covid-19 consequences, which reflects the city's new attitude.
The America's Cup might give temporary jobs to lower paid workers, but let's face it - it is about the rich getting richer.
We are at a point in history where comprehensive policies are needed to more equally distribute resources, not disingenuous suggestions that a hit-or-miss sports events can sort out a crisis.
The almost certain 2021 TNZ victory will be worthy of a street parade. But if we keep putting all the emphasis on the classic, niche, rich-white-guy sport while ignoring the masses, there should be protests in the streets next time.
And while Dalton says a report on funding cleared his name, there is justifiable disquiet in many quarters over the sports team and the event being controlled by the same man. It can't happen like that again.
What if Dalton takes the America's Cup overseas?
It's an event which should move around. It wouldn't do the AC any good to park up in New Zealand. It needs to keep reinventing itself to survive. TNZ's design dominance could turn out to be a problem, although powerful overseas forces will probably launch raids on TNZ's best people in an effort to leap ahead, given that simply catching up is the losing option.
What's the $64,000 question?
What happens if/when Burling and Tuke leave Dalton? Will they become the new TNZ? Will Dalton hang on? It could be a tasty soap opera.
Enjoy smooth sailing to the Cup with Auckland Transport
• Avoid traffic congestion and parking niggles and download the AT Mobile app to plot your bus, train or ferry ride to race venues before you leave home.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride to the Cup
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup