The teams competing in the 2021 America's Cup have been officially excused from participation in the first America's Cup World Series event in Sardinia by dint of a decision issued on Thursday morning by the arbitration panel.
The delay in the Italians running up the white flag on their event caused a lot of frustration for the teams.
Logistically it was going to be very difficult for a team to exit Sardinia, go through a COVID-19 induced self-isolation period in the UK, and then tranship, assemble, practice and race an AC75 in a four day regatta.
Over the space of three days starting March 11, the Italians and Kiwis exchanged issued media statements on the viability of the ACWS Cagliari, the first of which came from the Italians who said there was nothing to prevent the series from proceeding.
But what they didn't say was that a week earlier, on March 5, New York Yacht Club's American Magic had already filed with the arbitration panel, saying that a force majeure situation existed, thanks to COVID-19, and asking to be relieved of participation in ACWS Cagliari. And could they please have their US$300,000 entry fee returned?
The New York Yacht Club's application to the arbitration panel was already known to the Italians, as all teams are notified as soon an application is received.
By that stage, Team New Zealand's first AC75, Te Aihe, was well on the way to Sardinia.
While the team subsequently made a show of the boat being offloaded in Singapore, they have subsequently advised that Te Aihe was put on a ship for Italy.
Te Aihe will again be transhipped to Portsmouth, UK - the venue for the second America's Cup World Series scheduled for June 4-7.
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Currently, the UK event is still proceeding but will be subject to COVID-19 regulations.
Team NZ CEO Grant Dalton told NZME that a decision on ACWS Portsmouth would have to be made "very soon".
"Any announcement (either way) needs to be coordinated with the sponsor, Emirates airline and Portsmouth City," he said on Thursday morning.
While American Magic's AC75 Defiant was still in Pensacola Florida awaiting shipment, Team NZ is the worst affected of all the teams with an AC75 that is still en route to Italy.
"The AC75 is still en route to its original destination Italy, at which point it will continue to the UK or be turned around," Dalton said.
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One of the options with the America's Cup World Series Portsmouth is to run it as a closed stadium event - with there being no fans in the stands - and the event viewable on live television only.
Looking long-term, the America's Cup is quite a different proposition to other sports which have had their schedules turned inside out by precautions taken by the coalition government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Against the background of a global pandemic and European lockdown, New Zealand is looking very attractive and workable.
It is understood that the challengers are keen to get to Auckland as soon as possible, airlines able, to get set up and start sailing.
That requires base construction - of which Team UK are well advanced with their steel framework partially erected ahead of being closed-in.
American Magic's base next door is being used as a temporary carpark, but construction is expected to start soon. Italy's Luna Rossa are in a slightly more advanced position with their base on Hobson Wharf.
As an interim measure, the three challengers could set up temporary bases, similar in style to Team NZ's base built from shipping containers with a flexible skin roof.
While some adjustment to timelines might be required, New Zealand in its current state, is a vastly easier environment for the teams to operate than a locked-down Europe.
For Team NZ it is business as usual with the team sailing their test boat Te Kāhu, awaiting the return of their AC75, Te Aihe, and with their second AC75 scheduled for launch later in spring.
The team sailed the 12 metre test boat, Te Kāhu, earlier this week in a session that lasted four hours. They looked to be training well, with many dry tacks and gybes.
The breeze was so light initially that the Te Kahu had to be towed onto her foils using a thin towline - like a glider being towed airborne by a drone aircraft - before she was released to free-sail.
That sight was quite remarkable with Te Kāhu going from only being able to sail at displacement speed in maybe 4-6kts of windspeed, to being towed at 12-15kts into the breeze generating an apparent wind speed of 15kts.
Less than three minutes later, freed of the towline, and in a powerful display of sailing physics, skipper Peter Burling turned Te Kāhu through more 90 degrees. The mono-foiler took off in a multiple of several times true wind speed at more than 20kts, hotly pursued by two chase boats.
Monday's was a typical new feature, and functionality testing session - which are recognisable with fast runs across the wind, being punctuated with long adjustment sessions stopped alongside the chase-boat.
The session underlined the benefit of being able to test half-scale before fitting the new design features to the race boat.
The final verdict on the usefulness of Te Kāhu will no doubt come from a series of AC75 regattas now looking likely to be staged in Auckland - coronavirus willing.