Team New Zealand are challenging a decision by the America's Cup Events Authority to ditch Auckland as host of the qualifying regatta in early 2017.

But chief executive Grant Dalton says regardless of the outcome of any hearing "this is not the end of Emirates Team New Zealand".

The team today filed an application to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel to reinstate Auckland as the qualifier venue, claiming organisers have "breached their signed agreement and protocol obligations".

The move comes after the teams voted through changes to the protocol for the 35th America's Cup, which included a reduction in boat size between 45 and 50 foot foiling catamarans in order to cut the costs of competing. The majority of teams also indicated a preference that all of the racing in 2017 be conducted at a single venue, Bermuda. The America's Cup Event Authority said it "will consider this in nominating a venue for the America's Cup qualifiers".


However, Team NZ believe moves to retrospectively change the venue of the qualifiers are illegal.

Under the original Protocol, the qualifier venue was to be announced by February 15 this year. This requirement was fulfilled on this date, with the teams informed that Auckland would be the location of the qualifiers, although there was no public announcement.

But among the changes to the Protocol voted on today, ACEA sought to change this date to April and disregard the agreement for Auckland to be the location for the America's Cup qualifier.

"Emirates Team New Zealand have filed an application to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel in the belief that ACEA has breached their signed agreement and protocol obligations by discarding Auckland," said Dalton.

"However prior to any hearing [Team NZ] will continue discussions with all teams and ACEA on the prospect of continuing to bring America's Cup racing to Auckland."

With Team NZ's bid for government funding hinges on securing hosting rights to the qualifying regatta, there has been suggestion the Kiwi syndicate may be forced to close their doors without a top-up from the tax-payer.

But with the government indicating the level of investment in the next Cup campaign would be significantly less than the $36 million they handed over for the 2013 regatta, the other cost-cutting measures voted through today should off-set any loss in public money. It is understood the government were only prepared to put $5-10 million to Team NZ's next campaign.

Dalton said their decision to challenge the events authority's decision is not about their bid to secure government funding.

"We are fighting to keep Auckland as a qualifier. This isn't about government funding, this is not the end of Emirates Team New Zealand, it's about enforcing a contract and bringing America's Cup racing to New Zealand as agreed by ACEA," said Dalton.

Earlier this afternoon the America's Cup Events Authority announced it was forging ahead with plans to draw up a new class rule after the team voted through changes to the boats for the 2017 America's Cup.

The changes, aimed at significantly reducing the costs for the event, were first mooted last week and met with strong opposition from Team New Zealand and Italian team Luna Rossa. However, with many of the other European teams struggling to get the funds together to launch a competitive challenge, the defenders were able to get the majority vote they needed to push through a new design rule.

Central to these changes is the introduction of an exciting new America's Cup class - a wing-sailed, foiling catamaran between 45 and 50 feet.

America's Cup organisers also confirmed Auckland would not host the qualifying regatta as had been initially published in the Protocol last month. The decision to hold the regatta in Auckland was strongly opposed by the European challengers, who indicated a preference that all of the racing in 2017 be conducted at a single venue, Bermuda. The America's Cup Event Authority said it "will consider this in nominating a venue for the America's Cup qualifiers".

"The move to the new America's Cup Class is a major step forward for the America's Cup," said commercial commissioner Harvey Schiller, following the vote.

"Collectively, the teams have agreed current costs are neither justified, nor sustainable, and a majority have together taken a sensible course of action to cut costs. I believe this puts the America's Cup on a firm foundation for today and for the future."

Organisers say the new class will cost much less over the life of a campaign, with potential savings across design, build and operations, making it a revolutionary cost-saving measure for the sport in both the short and long term.

"This wasn't an easy process," admitted Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. "The established teams, ourselves included, were well down the path of designing an AC62.

But there is a bigger picture to consider. We needed to bring the costs down, but we had to respect the design component of the event as that's always been one of the biggest challenges in winning the America's Cup."

America's Cup authorities believe the cost-cutting measures may spark additional entries, with at least one potential team from Asia expected to challenge and other international teams considering their options.

"To be a global success, the America's Cup needs to be accessible to the best teams, not just the biggest and wealthiest ones," said Franck Cammas, the skipper of Team France.

"So we must change in this way."

Olympic medalist Roland Gaebler, who has been working to establish a German Challenge, said while the late change is controversial, it is essential to the survival of the event.

"This is a rule that provides the essential of the America's Cup - the design challenge, the sport, the athletic spectacle - without such a prohibitive cost," he said.

"My focus had been on the next America's Cup but with these changes we may be able to accelerate that."

The rule changes were passed by a majority vote of the Competitor Forum, comprising the six teams currently entered in the America's Cup. An updated Protocol and a new Class Rule will be published this week.