Grant Dalton has hit back at criticism hurled against the decision to take the America's Cup offshore.
Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron announced last week that the 37th edition of the America's Cup would be held in Barcelona in late 2024, sparking outrage from many in New Zealand who felt betrayed by the radical move after years of emotional and financial investment.
After successfully defending the Auld Mug in Auckland last year, Dalton and Team NZ rejected a $99 million bid from the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council to host the next event at home. Team NZ had also accepted significant investment from the Government ahead of the 2021 defence.
In an interview with The Times in the UK, Dalton responded to the Kiwi backlash, reiterating that the funding was never enough and a home defence would've crippled Team NZ.
"Do they honestly believe the money is there, because I can tell you it is not," the Team NZ boss said.
"Would they like the team to just get smashed?"
However, Dalton didn't rule out returning for a home defence if Team NZ manage to win a third straight Cup – if the money's right.
"The haters will always hate – I'm not particularly worried about that," Dalton told The Times. "The America's Cup is very polarising; we would definitely look at going back, but if the same problem exists, then the same problem exists.
"But who knows, in a different time, maybe with a different government, maybe the same government, maybe a different regime might see value in it."
Despite losing out on home waters advantage, Dalton was confident that a Barcelona regatta would motivate his team to succeed.
"If you study the history of teams in the second edition of defence, there's a pattern with it. They get sloppy, and they end up as a bunch of individualists. They don't get focused, and they are normally not fast either.
"I think you can put a lot of that down to the fact that they lose their edge, and to me, that would be created by being at home.
"I would argue that we are like Vikings – we raid better than we do participate in our own environment."
Dalton was also aware of Team NZ's rivals and admitted Sir Ben Ainslie's Team UK will pose a serious challenge.
"Their tools will be at a higher level than ours," he said.
"It's just whether they can operate them – you've got to have both, the tools and the operators.
"Their CFD (computational fluid dynamics) tools, their mechanical tools in terms of their hydro systems, are absolutely first class – they just need to harness that."
He also praised Ainslie and Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe as "winners".
"Ben and Jim Ratcliffe are winners. Ben is supported by a man that is a winner, that is immensely clever – he's just one impressive individual.
"And he's not taking this on to get beaten. He has put the resource in place – and that is a lot of money plus the people – to have a bloody good crack it. But who knows how they will do until the boat goes in the piss [water]."