Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton insists the selection of Bermuda to host the next America's Cup will not be a serious setback for the team.
America's Cup organisers confirmed at a press conference in New York this morning that Bermuda will host the next event in June 2017.
The announcement the small island in the Atlantic had won out over San Diego, the host of the 1988, 1992 and 1995 regattas, came as little surprise after news of Bermuda's selection was leaked in the US press two weeks ago.
That news was met with raised eye-brows from America's Cup professionals and followers, with the selection of Bermuda appearing a strange move for a sport that is keen to expand its global reach. There was also concern it could be a potential death knell for commercially-funded teams like Team NZ, with the limited market in Bermuda making it difficult to attract sponsorship.
The government, whom Team NZ were reliant on for around 20 per cent of their funding in the last Cup campaign, are also less than enthused about the idea of Bermuda, with economic development minister Steven Joyce admitting over the weekend it will be harder to justify funding of Team New Zealand's next America's Cup bid if Bermuda hosts the regatta.
But in a statement released this morning, Dalton said Bermuda's selection ahead of San Diego, "despite what many pessimists had said", would not be a serious setback for the team.
"As we have made plain, West coast USA looked like a better option for us. It's only 12 hours from New Zealand, and a large market for our sponsors and New Zealand businesses," he said.
"When it became apparent that Bermuda's bid was favoured we stepped up our analysis of Bermuda as a venue both in operational terms and for the opportunities it might provide for our sponsors, suppliers and New Zealand Inc to leverage their involvement with the team.
"We were encouraged by what we learned. Operationally, Bermuda is by far a better place to sail. Unlike San Diego there's usually a good sea breeze, plenty of space for the race course area and more waterfront space is available for teams to set up bases."
America's Cup commercial commissioner Dr Harvey Schiller also revealed at this morning's announcement he had received a "serious proposal" from Team New Zealand to host a major event in the lead-up to the 2017 regatta - likely to be the new qualifying series for the 35th America's Cup.
Dalton confirmed the team had put together a proposal to the America's Cup Events Authority about events in New Zealand and discussions were proceeding favourably.
"Details must remain confidential for now; we hope we can say much more before the end of the year."
Steve Armitage, head of corporate and council relations for Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) said the organisation is aware of the opportunity to host a lead-up event to the 2017 America's Cup, however it had not received any formal request or proposal to consider at this stage.
"We look forward to hearing from ETNZ and understanding the potential role Auckland can play. Any event proposal would be considered against ATEED's Major Events Sponsorship criteria, to ensure it achieved the desired social and economic benefits for Auckland."
This will be the first time a US defender holds the America's Cup outside the United States. It also will be the first time in the regatta's 163-year history that a defender sails the races in foreign waters by choice rather than necessity.
Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill said while San Franciso put on a great regatta in 2013, the sport needs to keep building.
"I have nothing but great memories of San Francisco, but the sport goes on and I think this move will be really exciting," said Spithill.
America's Cup commercial commissioner Dr Harvey Schiller said in past events smaller venues, such as Newport Rhode Island and Fremantle, had worked well for the event, with the locals fully embracing the event.
"We wanted a location that shared our vision where all the teams can be located in one place...and we wanted a location that would welcome the America's Cup and what we're about and fully get behind us, " said Dr Schiller.
The Premier of Bermuda, Michael Dunkley, was grilled on the British overseas territory's ability to cope with the influx of sailors, shore crew, sponsors and spectators, with the island said to have just 17 hotels and 2000 beds. Dunkley said he was confident Bermuda could accommodate the event, with the island to embark on building infrastructure to produce an unrivalled venue for teams and fans.
He promised a purpose-built America's Cup village with all the team bases to be housed in one basin area and a "pit row" experience would be provided for the public.
"From the very start, Bermuda's bid was designed around our many strengths, including our near perfect sailing conditions, our temperate year-round climate for team training, our optimal location and time zone for visitors and television viewers alike, the intimate and unmatched setting offered by Bermuda's Great Sound, our maritime legacy and innovation, and the spirit and hospitality of our people.
Two of Bermuda's most famous residents, Hollywood stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones, were also at the glitzy announcement in New York.