AMERICA'S CUP LATEST
* How world media reacted: Team NZ 'masterful' as Luna Rossa face the 'impossible'
* Phil Robertson: This is no San Francisco, Luna Rossa are maxed out
* How Peter Burling's local knowledge proved pivotal
* How Luna Rossa plan to fight back
Team New Zealand are understood to be considering a radical proposal for the next America's Cup defence, if they are able to retain the Auld Mug against Luna Rossa today.
Ahead 6-3 in the best-of-13 series, the Kiwi syndicate need one more win to successfully defend the Cup they won four years ago in Bermuda - but their next defence could be unprecedented in the modern era of the event.
Newstalk ZB understands the defender chief Grant Dalton and Ineos Team UK owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe have two options on the table for the next Cup defence.
One is in New Zealand in 2024, but the other which has been discussed is a one-off defence against Ineos Team UK excluding other challengers on the Isle of Wight next year.
That would return to the Cup to its original home, where the Americans won the first regatta back in 1851.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, America's Cup winner Brad Butterworth confirmed he'd heard those claims.
"There's some bizarre stuff going on. The ball's always bouncing in the America's Cup. They are talking about Ineos, I guess would be funding the whole thing. Both teams would go to the Isle of Wight and do an America's Cup like it was 200 years ago."
A single challenger event would be a radical departure from the norm.
Ratcliffe, who is one of Britain's richest men, has expressed an interest in being involved in future Cup challenges, since Team UK's elimination in the Prada Cup final last month.
The Cup has featured multiple challengers in every edition since 1970, aside from the Deed of Gift challenges of 1988 and 2010, but they were both products of court battles.
It's one of several options that have been considered by the defenders, who have previously also talked about a defence in Auckland in 2023.
Earlier this year Team New Zealand confirmed speculation that it had engaged a British consulting company to invite bids from potential host cities in Asia, the Middle East and Europe for the next defence.
At the time Dalton said the move was being considered, to ensure the future viability of the team and guard against a repeat of what occurred after the last successful Cup defence in 2000, when Team New Zealand lost dozens of staff and sailors to other syndicates with bigger chequebooks, most notably Alinghi.
Bermuda is believed to have contributed more than US$77 million to the hosting of the 2017 America's Cup, while Valencia (2007) stumped up in excess of €60 million for the right to host that regatta.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant negative effect on Team New Zealand's financial position.
As reported yesterday by the Herald, the Royal Yacht Squadron - with close ties to Ineos Team UK - has already been lined up as the next Challenger of Record, and representatives, including commodore James Sheldon are already in Auckland, ready to complete the necessary paperwork.
Team NZ have been approached for comment.
Team NZ to match point
Jimmy Spithill summed it up with two words: "Sorry, boys". Peter Burling described it as "good fun".
Two of the world's best sailors go head to head for the 10th - and possibly final - time in this America's Cup today, with Burling's Team New Zealand just one win away from retaining the Auld Mug.
And it is likely to be a double blow for the Italians - they are set to be replaced as the Challenger of Record, with the UK Royal Yacht Squadron (and, by extension, Ben Ainslie and Ineos Team UK) set to take the responsibility for the next America's Cup.
Spithill was left apologising to his team after he opened the gate for Team New Zealand to foil past Luna Rossa in yesterday's race nine, giving the Kiwis a 6-3 lead in the best-of-13 series.
Team New Zealand will be hoping to crack open the champagne today after the weather put paid to any hopes for a second race - and possible celebrations - yesterday.
The shifty conditions in Auckland meant the start of the day's first race was delayed and the second race was called off.
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Race nine was tight, with the Italians holding a slight edge and leading on the penultimate leg until Spithill failed to cover Team New Zealand. The Kiwis - helped by Burling's local knowledge of the wind-shift conditions of the Hauraki Gulf - were able to cruise past and close out the race.
"It was a pretty tight race all in all and one right shift up that last beat really decided it for us," Burling said.
"It was good fun racing. It was great to be back in here on Course C and having a great battle with a really good team, but great to come away with another win too."
It was a devastating way for things to unfold for Luna Rossa, who had sailed a perfect race up until the fifth leg and after crossing the finish line, co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill addressed his team with a simple "sorry, boys."
AUT Sailing Professor Mark Orams said it was good luck and good management from the Kiwis.
"That was one of the best America's Cup races you will ever see," said Orams. "Two great teams just fighting it out, with everything they had, some great defensive moves from the Italians, but in the end they were beaten by the relentless attacking from the Kiwis. They eventually cracked them."
Kiwi Olympic sailing medalist Jan Shearer said: "Luna Rossa will be a bit frightened by Team New Zealand's speed. Prada hung in there which is pretty impressive."
Shifting weather conditions ahead of Race 10 yesterday saw racing abandoned for the day, with the teams set to return to the water today. Racing is scheduled to get under way at 4.15pm today.
Today's conditions are expected to be ideal for racing, with American Magic skipper Dean Barker saying there could be "some epic sailing" today.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.