Barcelona has officially been confirmed as the next venue of the America's Cup, replacing Auckland of hosting duties for the 2024 event.
Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron made the announcement overnight, confirming the 37th running of the event to be held in September and October of 2024.
Team New Zealand successfully defended the Auld Mug last year with a 7-3 victory over Luna Rossa and then rejected a $99 million bid from the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council to host the next America's Cup, meaning the event looked likely to be hosted abroad.
A four-city shortlist included Barcelona, fellow Spanish city Malaga, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Ireland's Cork.
"Barcelona really is one of the most recognised cities in the world so to have the ability to host the most recognised sailing event in the world is hugely exciting," America's Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said after a long and competitive venue selection process.
"As Defender of the America's Cup, we have always felt the responsibility to grow the event, the audience, and the sport of sailing on a global scale and certainly having the event hosted in a significant city such as Barcelona will allow us to propel the growth trajectory on the global sporting stage."
"When thinking ahead to the 37th America's Cup and the AC75's racing within a few hundred metres of the Barcelona beach, waterfront, and race village fan engagement zones it will be nothing less than spectacular."
Barcelona has existing world class facilities for racing, team bases, technical infrastructure, superyachts, and areas for the America's Cup event village to host fans, hospitality, and media. It also has an average wind range of 9-15 knots during the September and October race window, making the city completely fit for purpose.
Barcelona's bid saw an unprecedented alliance across public and private entities working together to attract the America's Cup to Barcelona which included the Government of Catalonia, Barcelona City Council, City Hall of Barcelona, Port of Barcelona, Barcelona Global's investment agency and Barcelona & Partners, a non-profit initiative composed of more than 200 of the city's leading institutions aiming to make Barcelona one of the world's best cities for talent and economic activity.
As current holder and Trustee of the America's Cup, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron welcomed the announcement.
"Barcelona holds a very special place in New Zealand's sailing history and we remember with pride the success of our 1992 Olympic Games sailing team and four medal result", said Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Aaron Young.
"Barcelona will be a stunning venue for the America's Cup racing and the Women's and Youth regattas, and we look forward to defending the America's Cup there in 2024 as we work to promote and grow the sport of sailing around the world. There are also significant opportunities for our New Zealand marine industry, trade and sailors. Our members will enjoy exclusive benefits and travel options to Barcelona, and we anticipate a large delegation of Club members travelling in support of our Team in 2024".
The decision has its critics in New Zealand with the unprecedented move to take the Cup away after defending it.
"New Zealand badly needed a local defence of the Cup after the ravages of Covid on its once-thriving tourist industry," a sailing source told NZME.
"Yes, America's Cup trophy sits for the time being in a New Zealand yacht club trophy cabinet, but is there really any point if the America's Cup is only now to be pimped around the world?"
"To my many friends in Spain, please understand that for most New Zealanders, it is to us akin to Spain winning the Football World Cup coupled with hosting rights for the next competition, then the Spanish Football Federation selling the event to say, Australia."