Grant Dalton has all but confirmed there will be just three seriously-funded challengers for the 2021 America's Cup in Auckland.

Challenger of record Luna Rossa, Ben Ainslie's Ineos Team UK and the New York Yacht club are the big players confirmed for the monohull event.

There are enough bases for three more challengers at the Auckland waterfront but they are unlikely to be completely filled.

Team NZ's America's Cup defence: Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport, TVNZ secure exclusive broadcast rights for 2021


With the other challenger prospect also coming from America, the regatta may feature teams from just four countries. This compares unfavourably, so far, with last year's multihull regatta in Bermuda, which featured holders Oracle Team USA and challengers from five other countries.

After today's broadcasting rights announcement, Emirates Team New Zealand boss Dalton tried to blame previous Cup organisers for allowing the prestige of the event to decline. In particular, he said using subscriber services to cover the cup had shrunk the world audience.

"The other teams which come in will be slightly smaller," Dalton said.

"We've proved it is not an impediment to winning. We've always been a small team. I know who they are — if they get the right people they will be a threat as well."

"One of the things I'm finding is there is a lot of damage in the cup, more than I expected. We've got a bit of rebuilding to do."

A second American challenger named Team USA21 is reportedly trying to get its entry in by June, to avoid the US$1m fee for giving later notice. Team USA21 is self-described as a "start-up", and still can't announce where its home base would be until backers are found.

In the interviews with the Radio Sport Breakfast and Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Dalton was unable to give any definitive statement on further entries, but said it was up to teams to make their own announcements.

"Three of those (prospective teams he knows of) I would rate as possibly real," said Dalton, before suggesting that could be an overly-optimistic assessment.


Dalton talked up the challenge from Ainslie — he said the famous Brit failed in last year's Bermuda America's Cup because he did not have the "right people" on board and had rectified that situation.

Dalton was dismissive of two-time America's Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli, who said this week Alinghi wasn't interested in the 2021 regatta and slammed TNZ's monohull decision.

Dalton said: "I could have told you nine months ago Alinghi will not be part of it...he doesn't like what we're doing. Those guys tend to take their toys away."