Ineos Team UK owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe says no decisions have been made about the next host of the America's Cup, despite strong speculation suggesting the next regatta could take place in the Isle of Wight.
With Ineos Team UK confirmed as the Challenger of Record for the 37th America's Cup, the wheels are now in motion with preparations for the event, but in an exclusive interview, Ratcliffe told Newstalk ZB's Matt Brown that there is still plenty to be decided.
"Where we'll finish up and when we'll finish up is still being debated. There are different potential scenarios. Whatever it will be, it will be a good Cup because I think these AC75s are so exciting and it's a close competition.
"Everybody's read the rumours in the press, and they're things I'm not really at liberty to comment on," Ratcliffe said. "All I can say is we'll engage in discussions with Grant Dalton and his guys and hopefully we'll come up with a good answer."
Ratcliffe paid tribute to Team New Zealand for their victory over Luna Rossa in the America's Cup match, and noted how difficult it is to topple the four-time Cup winners.
"It's not just about money – money helps if you're a well-funded team, but you guys really are the best sailing team in the world because you've got the best sailors and you produce the quickest boats in the world. You've got so much great sailing technology here and that's quite difficult for us to replicate. It's a challenge."
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron accepted the challenge from the Isle of Wight's Royal Yacht Squadron on Wednesday afternoon when Team New Zealand crossed the finish line to win the 36th America's Cup. The challenge was laid and accepted out on the water between the commodores of the clubs.
That challenge may take place overseas next year in a Deed of Gift match, with Dalton, Team NZ's chief executive, telling TVNZ that taking the Cup to the Isle of Wight was on the cards.
"Certainly the Isle of Wight is an option," Dalton said. "We want to come back, but we also have to think of the team and ultimately my responsibility is primarily to the welfare and the strength and the ability to defend the Cup."
The groups will now work together to sort through the finer details of how the defence will look, with a location expected to be decided upon within the next six months, and the protocol for the 37th America's Cup schedule to be revealed within the next eight months.
Some rules have already been established. The event will again be sailed on the AC75 class, with teams only allowed to build one new vessel. The class will be used for the next two America's Cup regattas, and it is a condition of entry for teams to agree to this.
The defender and the Challenger of Record will also set out to investigate and establish a meaningful package of campaign cost reduction measures including measures to attract a higher number of challengers and to assist with the establishment of new teams.
This was a point of criticism on the 36th edition of the Cup, as only three challengers were able to fund their campaign to the point where they were able to make it onto the starting line in Auckland.