There could yet be a New Zealand-flagged boat in the upcoming edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The Herald has learned America's Cup hero Craig Monk is attempting to put together a Kiwi campaign for the round the world yacht race, which gets under way in Alicante, Spain in late October.
There is just one boat left unassigned in the one-design VOR65 fleet, and it is understood the consortium led by Monk has paid the deposit for the boat, but a final decision will hinge on securing private investment over the next week.
Given the race gets under way on October 22, and the first qualifying race is just a month away, the Kiwi-led campaign is being put together very late in the piece. But there is a strong will from both Volvo Ocean Race bosses and officials here charged with organising the Auckland stopover in March 2018, to have a Kiwi entry.
Grant Calder, managing director of the Auckland stopover, said past editions of the event have shown having a New Zealand boat in the race has a significant impact on visitor numbers.
"If we can go back to the 2011-12 event, having a New Zealand boat in the race resulted in a 20 per cent increased footfall compared to the 2014-15 event, when there wasn't a Kiwi team," said Calder.
"I know a big driver for the Volvo Ocean Race moving forward is having the host cities represented in the race."
Volvo Ocean Race bosses also see an opportunity to capitalise on the groundswell of enthusiasm for sailing in New Zealand following Team NZ's America's Cup win.
The event's executive, Mark Turner, held a series of meetings with Team NZ boss Grant Dalton, who made his name in the gruelling round the world race, in Bermuda.
The Kiwi syndicate were involved in the 2011-12 race with a joint New Zealand-Spanish flagged boat due to a partnership with Spanish footwear company Camper, and Dalton has made no secret of his wish to be involved with the race again.
Chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge told the Herald earlier this month while the possibility of doing the 2017-18 race was "heavily discussed", in order to be highly competitive and represent the Team NZ brand properly, they needed to be on the water two months ago.
"We have talked about it a lot, but with all the planning and preparation that needs to take place, we just couldn't do it properly at this late stage," said Shoebridge.
Monk, a member of Team New Zealand's triumphant 1995 and 2000 America's Cup campaigns, currently manages the China One team on World Match Racing Team and M32 circuits. The team, skippered by Kiwi world match racing champion Phil Robertson, is based out of Ningbo, China - the sister city to Auckland.
With most of the big names in the sport already signed on with other teams, it is not known who will skipper a New Zealand entry, or occupy the key navigation role, but Calder believes there is no shortage of Kiwi talent ready to take on the challenge.
"It still very much up in the air, we have the team, just not the money. But there has never been a cheaper time to enter the Volvo Ocean Race."